We might only be a few days away from Christmas, but it has still been a busy week! On Monday, I had the chance to press the Home Office Minister to extend the Rail to Refuge scheme which is currently due to end in March 2021. This scheme was first established by Women’s Aid last year with Great Western Rail and Southeastern after a Station Manager saw a documentary about the dedicated work done by a Women’s Aid refuge. All other Train Operating Companies have now committed to the scheme meaning that it is available to anyone who needs to use it right across the National Rail Network. It means that the cost of a ticket is covered by the Train Companies and removes the financial barrier for those escaping violence. What the charity was able to achieve is so important as it created another safeguard for anyone fleeing abuse. If this scheme was to be lost, I would dread to think of the harm it would do for those trying to find safety.
The Minister could only confirm that the UK Department for Transport would be looking at the scheme in early 2021 to review its continued funding. But this shouldn’t be something that needs to be reviewed. It’s a straightforward and simple solution that does so much to help victims of domestic abuse. Covid-19 has highlighted so many inequalities in our communities. It’s heart-breaking to know that a fifth of all crimes committed in Wales and England during the first national lockdown involved domestic abuse. We cannot continue to see victims of abuse and violence continue to be let down by the UK Government and that’s why I’ll continue to fight for the Rail to Refuge scheme to be fully funded.
As you all know, I’m continuing to push for much needed changes to gambling legislation through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm. On Wednesday morning, I chaired a meeting with key stakeholders to discuss our shared aims for the Gambling Review and the changes that are needed to protect those most vulnerable to gambling related harm. It’s important that we use every tool at our disposal to fight for justice of those who have been affected. For too long the UK Government’s reaction to gambling has been light touch regulation and letting the industry mark its own homework. This needs to end. Bringing people around the table to go beyond the dry statistics and economic arguments and listen to how people’s lives are turned upside down is the best way of achieving change.
Our Christmas hampers have shone through in the last few weeks and reinforced why our community is simply the best. The fabulous support of businesses, community groups and residents will mean that those in need will be getting a much-needed boost. This is going to be a hard Christmas for many families, there is no shying away from that. But our fantastic community has come together to show there is always a silver lining. This week my team and I have been working hard preparing for the big day next Monday, when we will make and deliver 1000 hampers to families across the city. Thank you everyone involved in this year’s Everyone Deserves A Christmas campaign – I am honestly blown away by all the donations and offers of help.
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. Visit my website to see Christmas opening hours and emergency contacts. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!
Wishing you all a safe and joyous Christmas and a happy New Year!