It’s been another busy week for me! You may have seen or heard me over the weekend discussing gambling on Sky Racing, Times Radio, and LBC. We don’t often talk about the relationship between sports teams and gambling, but it’s important, because essentially, it’s sport that provides the gambling industry with their business. However, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s right that gambling companies’ logos should be emblazoned across the shirts of sports players, who are, let’s face it, idols and role models for so many children and young people. I heard a story about a 5-year-old child who had named her teddy bear after the gambling company she’d seen advertised on her team’s shirts – which shows just how much sponsorship normalises gambling to a young audience and connects it with the enjoyment of their favourite sport. This messaging is subliminal, and it is harmful.
Now I’m no puritan! I believe that there is a place for gambling, and I know many people who take real enjoyment from the odd flutter on the horses or the football. But the industry needs to recognise that there is a difference between the occasional trip to the bookies and the relentless, frictionless approach to gambling online. When you gamble on the web, there’s no thinking time. Everything is flashing, colourful, and accompanied by upbeat music and your credit card details are often saved online, allowing you to unthinkingly spend unaffordable sums. I am not calling for a gambling ban – I am simply calling for some responsibility and care from an industry that makes huge sums of money, too often at a great cost to individuals.
I had hoped to be called during Justice Questions this week to ask the Secretary of State about the steps that are being taken to support women leaving prison during the pandemic. We know that women face many challenges when leaving prison in normal times – often finding it difficult to secure accommodation, housing, and employment. With the pandemic now complicating everything and significantly impacting finances and employment, we must ensure that we are not releasing women back into a spiralling situation where trying to take care of necessities will drive them back into a life of crime.
I was also unlucky in the draw for Welsh Questions on Thursday! I wanted to ask the Secretary of State for Wales about what (if anything!) his Department was doing to support Government employees in Swansea who have been affected by the reckless management of the DVLA which has led to an outbreak of Covid. Businesses across Wales are getting support from the Welsh Labour Government, but employees in UK Government agencies need support too. The UK Government needs to do more to protect civil servants and keep them safe during the pandemic.
It’s great to see the wonderful new space that has opened this week at the University Hospital of Wales. Thanks to a large donation made by Gareth and Emma Bale during the pandemic, a Staff Haven has been opened in the Lakeside Wing to provide our hard-working NHS workers with a space to go to when they need a break from the difficult and emotional scenes they witness day-to-day on the hospital wards. They will have a kitchen area, tables and chairs to relax in, and shower facilities all in a mobile-free zone to be able to really take some time out from the madness. I hope the staff are able to use the space to recharge and I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your selfless dedication and hard work during these incredibly challenging months.
I’m pleased to be working with Morrison’s to support our new food project, where we are putting together lunches every Wednesday, to support those in need. Morrison’s have agreed to provide food at a significant discount for those struggling until the end of the lockdown. We’ve heard such heart-breaking stories of families who have been unable to put food on the table amid the upheaval of this pandemic and it’s fantastic that Morrison’s are working to support those people. The one silver lining of this pandemic has been seeing the way in which the community has pulled together and I hope this is one aspect that we will keep once we are all vaccinated – let’s keep the warmth and generosity that so many have shown during these difficult months. Thank you!
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 – stay home, observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!