It’s been another busy week in Swansea and Westminster. On Monday, I was pleased to meet with Antonia Mariconda to discuss the Safety in Beauty campaign, which she started to protect those undergoing cosmetic and beauty procedures. She wants to see consumers empowered by giving them better information that allows them to make safer choices. The campaign also gives consumers a safe place to seek advice and support if standards do not live up to expectations or if the services provided do not meet regulations. We do not have enough regulation governing the beauty and aesthetics industry in the UK – despite it being the third-largest market operating in the country. Regulation is needed to protect consumers as well as those working in the industry and the UK Government really needs to get a move on and work out some legislation.
I was delighted to speak at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group conference on Wednesday in my capacity as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Online and Home Electrical Safety. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group represents more than 3000 brands who are affected by the influx of fakes into the UK market and delivers an international network of information, advice, and contacts on all aspects of protection for companies. Fakes are of huge concern to companies, who lose money to poorly produced imitations and who are also concerned that their reputation for good quality may take a knock if people don’t realise these poor quality goods are counterfeit. I’ve long campaigned for tighter controls on online platforms selling electrical goods to ensure that such goods meet safety standards and are not counterfeit, recalled, or unsuitable for use in the UK. With the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic prompting record online sales, and Christmas swiftly approaching, the UK Government must do everything they can to protect consumers.
On Thursday, I was thrilled to meet with one of the founders of RecoverMe, which is a fabulous self-help app which supports individuals to manage their gambling addiction. The innovative platform utilises evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy. Their vision is to increase access to demonstrably effective gambling treatments and they have recently partnered with Southampton FC who have subsidised the cost of RecoverMe for a large number of individuals. The app was designed with the help of psychologists and psychiatrists to help deal with the emotional and psychological impact of a gambling addiction. Regulation of the gambling industry is incredibly important and we do need stricter guidelines in place, however, we also need to support those whose lives have been affected by gambling addiction and to find ways to help them recover from the addiction and to move on to better things. This is a brilliant example of how we can do that.
On Friday afternoon I spoke to Swansea University students about women in the penal system and modern slavery, as well as discussing my Everyone Deserves a Christmas campaign. I explained about my work on the issues and why I think they are important and I was really excited by the thoughtful and thought-provoking questions I received! Unfortunately, we have growing inequality in the UK and with the impact of the coronavirus on families’ finances, there are huge concerns for those in precarious employment and at the lower end of the payscale. Women are often very affected by this and research shows that many women are caught up in the penal system because they committed crimes such as theft in order to provide food and shelter for their families. We must do more to tackle low pay and inequality to ensure that people are not forced to resort to crime and risk so much to feed their families.
This week is Usdaw’s annual Respect for Shopworkers Week which they run as part of their Freedom From Fear campaign, seeking to tackle the rising problem of violence and abuse towards our fabulous frontline retail workers. It’s appalling that this sort of thing happens in normal times, but during this crisis, when our shopworkers have done so much to keep our shelves stocked and to support the most vulnerable people, anything but gratitude and appreciation is simply unacceptable. I am pleased to support this campaign and would encourage all constituents to sign Usdaw’s petition calling on the UK Government to enact legislation to create a specific offence of abusing, threatening, or assaulting a retail worker with a penalty that shows that we are serious about stopping these disgusting attacks.
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!