It’s been a busy week to return after recess!
On Monday, I co-chaired a meeting of the Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing All-Party Parliamentary Group. We were discussing the levels of insurance for those that perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures and the standards the practitioners should have before they are insured. Of course, it’s vital that practitioners are insured and that insurance demands a high level of skill and training – but it’s also important that consumers are aware of practitioners’ insurance coverage and the details of their redress scheme. It was a really positive meeting with good progress made.
I was pleased to speak at an event focussing on the recent spike in domestic abuse cases at the Centre for Social Justice. The Covid pandemic has had such a terrible impact on so many people, but for those experiencing or at risk of abuse, it’s been utterly devastating. Lockdown has taken away from many survivors of abuse their means of escaping for a few hours each day, particularly the workplace. Without being able to go to work, take the children to school, and denied the cover of a visit to the shops, many survivors have been trapped in the house with their abusers. Although the UK Government has continually stated that escaping domestic abuse is a reason for essential travel, we need to ensure that refuges have all the resources they need to help everyone who is escaping an abusive situation.
It was onto another meeting on the issues around gambling later in the week with a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, this time to discuss how football clubs could evolve without gambling sponsorship money. Simply put, our group recommends that the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of gambling in sport be banned. Currently, gambling sponsorship is one of the largest single revenue pillars for much of top-flight English and Scottish football, and it has been suggested by some opponents of reform that a such a ban or restriction would pose an existential threat to the lower levels of English football. This is simply not true. A number of clubs have rejected gambling sponsorship in recent years with no negative effects, including our very own Swansea City. Football reaches such a wide audience, that it seems nonsensical to suggest that no companies would step into sponsor football clubs if gambling sponsorship were to be banned or restricted, and we must take serious action to tackle the widespread problems of gambling addictions.
This Thursday we had our annual debate in the House of Commons to mark St David’s Day. As a child, St David’s day was almost as good as Christmas – running into school in our Welsh costumes and watching the boys eating their leeks for lunch and then feeling ill all afternoon. Most children won’t have the opportunity to share St David’s day with their friends this year or enjoy the annual Eisteddfod competitions, but their safety is far more important. That is why the Welsh Labour Government have set out a staggered return to the classroom for all our children, starting with the very youngest who returned this week and gradually working our way up, with exam years planned to return next month.
As Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour, I am immensely proud of how the Welsh Labour Government are leading the way on so many issues including environmental issues, looking after our young people, and providing a measured and evidence-led response to Covid. And as Spring approaches, there is positive news: thanks to the outstanding work of our NHS and volunteers, Wales is leading the way on the vaccine rollout, and thanks to the public’s support, the rate of positive cases has more than halved in Swansea in the last four weeks. Whilst we will all miss the smell of Welsh cakes cooking, that usually wafts out of Swansea Market on the days running up to St David’s Day, this year – by following the restrictions for a little while longer, we will get through this. And while we all stay home this weekend to keep our families safe and protect the NHS, let’s hope we get to enjoy a triumph for Wales over England in the Six Nations – what joy that would bring us all on this St David’s Day weekend!
We have continued providing our Wednesday lunches with the support of Morrison’s supermarket and will be delivering delicious Sunday roasts this weekend. I am so grateful to everyone involved for giving up their time to help us help those in the community who are most vulnerable. It truly makes me incredibly proud to represent such a wonderful constituency.
And it was similar themes of co-operation, community and proud patriotism that Mark Drakeford spoke about in his superb speech on Friday, at the start of Welsh Labour’s online “Spring Forward” event. Hearing Mark talk about the things that makes Wales of today what is was fab, and marked out the ground on which Welsh Labour will contest May’s Senedd election. Mark’s speech set out a bold and ambitious vision of the future, painting a vision of a Wales which is optimistic, outward looking and unapologetically patriotic. It was a great start to weekend of great events – including a quiz this evening hosted by yours truly!
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!