It’s been another busy week with more work done on gambling related harm. I spoke at a Money and Mental Health gambling conference on ‘Regulation, policy, and progress – what next for banks in tackling gambling harms.’ We need a holistic approach to tackling gambling related harms – we will not solve this problem simply by regulating the industry. While regulation is important and we do need stronger rules governing the predatory behaviour of the gambling companies, we also need to look at the wider ways in which society can work to tackle gambling, from financial firms to public health, from adult support services to schools. For adults who often are ashamed to seek help or talk to anyone in their family about gambling problems, their banks may be the only ones in a position to see that they are getting into trouble and therefore form a critical part of the solution. Some software is already being developed to block gambling software being run on personal devices and these are really important measures to help people who struggle with controlling their gambling.
I was also pleased to meet with other members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm this week to discuss the impacts of gambling on children. Research from the gambling commission shows that 12% of 11-16-year olds have spent their own money on gambling in the past week, compared to 16% who had drunk alcohol, 5% who had smoked, and 3% who had used drugs. 11% of 11-16-year olds have played free gambling-style games online and 11% of 11-16-year olds have also bet with in-game items when playing computer or app-based games. Gambling is as dangerous and addictive as smoking, alcohol, and drugs and yet we are exposing our children to these worrying influences with few controls. This has to change.
On Wednesday, I was able to speak in the Opposition Day Debate where once again I tackled the UK Government on their lack of support for the beauty and wellbeing industry. I have spoken in the Chamber on this issue, I have written to ministers, to the Chancellor, and to the Prime Minister asking for better support for a multi-billion-pound industry that is currently on its knees. 370,000 people earn their living from this sector and could do with the VAT reductions given to the hospitality and leisure sectors being extended to the beauty sector. The UK Government’s trademark flippancy, its ridiculing of this sector is appalling and has left the 370,000 employees of this sector, mostly women, feeling belittled, undervalued, and angry.
There was another (virtual, of course) meeting this week with managers from the local job centre in Swansea. Employment is a huge issue at the moment with uncertainty about the impact of a second wave of Covid and a difficult winter approaching and the job centre in Swansea does an incredibly important job of supporting job seekers to find employment. Amazon is a huge employer for Swansea and there are over 400 job vacancies across various sectors, from drivers to labourers, teaching assistants service assistants. If you are looking for a job, you can find your local jobcentre here with their contact details or use the DWP’s Find a Job search tool here.
This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week and the debate we’ve seen on social media around the appropriateness of the pictures Chrissy Teigen posted of her in hospital following the tragic loss of her unborn baby, shows that too often society doesn’t know how to talk about baby loss. This often makes an already heartbreaking time even more difficult for parents who are going through this terrible experience. The Covid pandemic has also had a huge impact on parents expecting a child, with many mums-to-be being further isolated by Covid restrictions. Now, more than ever, we need to join the conversation and let those affected by pregnancy and baby loss know that they are not alone.
Today it’s Wear Red Day for Show Racism the Red Card. The charity encourages schools, businesses, and individuals to wear red and donate £1 to help fund anti-racism education for young people and adults across the UK. In the year of BLM protests across the United States and Britain and the discussion around the disproportionate impact of Covid on the BAME community in the UK, the day takes on an added significance this year. Racism has no place in our sports, no place in our schools or workplaces, and absolutely no place in our society. We all need to stand up and call out racism where we see it and work towards a more inclusive, supportive society.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!