Parliament returned on Monday to pay tribute to the life and achievements of the late HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. I joined MPs across the House in paying tribute to the Duke on behalf of my constituents and offered my deepest sympathies to the Queen and the Royal Family for their loss. He was, of course, first and foremost, the companion to the Queen for 73 years and will be a great loss to her and her family. Our thoughts are with them. However, I wanted to pay tribute particularly to his greatest legacy: The Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which have given young people life experiences they may never otherwise have had. I know that in Swansea East and across Wales the difference these awards have made to the lives of youngsters from working-class backgrounds is phenomenal —not just for the range of activities and adventures they have enjoyed, but for the personal accomplishments, the skills that they have learned, the confidence they have gained and the futures that have been shaped from these experiences. The scheme is asking for memories to be added to their website of people’s experiences to mark this sad occasion and to pay tribute to this legacy. For those who want to add their memory, or to find out more about taking part in the scheme, you can visit dofe.org.
The last 13 months have impacted all of our lives, through illness, bereavement and financial worries, on top of learning to live with the fear of the pandemic and the limits on our freedoms. We have not all faced the same level of difficulties, but none of us have escaped without our lives in some way being changed by the experience. Some 127,000 people have tragically lost their lives—this is one of the highest death tolls in Europe —and in the past year more than 450,000 have been hospitalised due to severe Covid symptoms. For every one of those people, it has been our amazing NHS frontline staff who have cared for them, fought for them and either celebrated their recovery or held their hand as they took their last breath. Our NHS staff have kept this country going, risking their own health, isolating from their own families, working harder than ever, grieving the lives they could not save and comforting the bereaved. They are the very best of Britain and they deserve to be given the credit and the reward for everything that they have done and everything they have sacrificed to keep the rest of us safe. In England, the Government have refused to honour their commitment to give NHS workers a 2.1% pay rise and we in Labour believe that they must justify this decision before Parliament and put it to a vote, which is why we have put forward a 10-Minute Rule Bill to this effect.
Today I met with London MP Bambos Charalambos and his constituents to discuss the proposed 24-hour gaming centre in Palmers Green in London. This would be the fifth gambling venue to open in the small suburban neighbourhood and is expected to be a “magnet” for vulnerable people and lead to antisocial behaviour. Covid has had a huge impact on our society and a significant impact on those with gambling problems right across the country.
This month is Stress Awareness Month during which the Stress Management Society want to challenge people to their ’30 Day Challenge’ to encourage people to pick one action for their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing to carry out each day. Millions of people in the UK experience regular high levels of stress, which can have significant impacts on both mental and physical health. The pandemic has only made the public health challenge of stress even more urgent, with the Stress Management Society finding that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since the beginning of the pandemic. The three main causes identified in this rise are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty and loss of control. I would urge constituents in Swansea who are struggling to cope with levels of stress to set themselves this ‘30 Day Challenge’, to explore the resources available, and to help maximise your chances of turning knowledge and techniques into positive change. For resources and advice on how to reduce and manage stress, including more information on the ‘30 Day Challenge’, head to the Stress Management Society’s website.
Remember 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!