I started the week with a very pleasurable hour with Mal Pope on Premier Christian Radio to discuss my campaigning in Parliament. We discussed Martin’s Fund and how it was only through cross-party cooperation that we managed to make it a reality. Thanks to the efforts of MPs across the political spectrum, parents no longer have to worry about how to afford their child’s funeral when they are going through the most painful experience they will ever endure. We do have differences in politics, of course we do, and I believe very different things to many of the people I work with. But to stop listening to them and to stop talking to find compromise or to find commonality is to reject politics. I want to work with people to make changes that help society and I firmly believe that that must happen through cross-party cooperation – and I am pleased to count many politicians from across the House as friends. I’m also pleased to be working with a group of MPs with a range of political beliefs on my problem gambling campaign as well as my Menopause Revolution campaign.
On Tuesday, I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm to discuss the impact of loot boxes and Twitch. Loot boxes are virtual treasure chests (accessed for a fee) found in many online games, such as FIFA and Call of Duty, which contain undisclosed items that can be used by the player in the game. They are lucrative elements of many games and estimates in 2018 suggested that loot boxes generated over £20 billion of revenue. There is growing concern that loot boxes share similar characteristics to gambling and consequently may have damaging effects on vulnerable individuals, particularly young children and adolescents.
Twitch is an online streaming platform that live streams video gaming and gambling to millions of viewers every day. Viewers can watch gamblers using online slot machines or playing poker. Twitch has an entire channel, Casino Daddy, where viewers can watch 14-hour live streams of slot and poker players, whilst also chatting to other users, creating a hybrid social network and gambling experience. Live Stream Gambling may pose a problem for vulnerable individuals, particularly adolescents and children as they introduce and normalise gambling. The live streamers may promote risky behaviour and glamorise high-stakes gambling without showing any of the consequences that may arise from high-risk and unrestricted gambling. The risks of this kind of gambling are clear – we know that social media is addictive with the likes and shares and colourful posts that are not present in real-life gambling. We have to ensure that vulnerable people are protected and that the gambling portrayed is not encouraging people to gamble with abandon and find out too late that the virtual world can have some serious and unpleasant real-world consequences.
On Thursday I hosted a photocall for other parliamentarians in Parliament Square ahead of the first evidence session for the APPG on Menopause. MPs from across the House joined us to show their support for the inquiry and the campaign and demonstrated that this taboo is no more. We can and should talk about menopause within families, among friends and colleagues, and even in the hallowed halls of the Palace of Westminster. Women are not to be ignored and neither are their health and wellbeing concerns. Thank you to all MPs who showed your support and I look forward to working with many of you in the coming months so that we can improve the lives of many of our female constituents.
Today, I met with representatives from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to discuss the Menopause Revolution campaign and the work of the APPG. We discussed the shocking find from a recent survey that an astounding 41% of UK medical schools at universities do not have mandatory menopause education on the curriculum. For most women seeking help for menopause symptoms, their first port of call will not be an obstetrician or a gynaecologist; it will be their family GP. It is therefore vital that all GPs have the adequate training to recognise the symptoms and to be able to either refer patients to a specialist or to prescribe appropriate care and medication. I myself was misdiagnosed with depression for years and I know from speaking to other women that my case was not unusual. This medical gap in teaching and training must be closed now. Women have waited long enough.
We heard further information from the Welsh Government this week on the easing of Covid restrictions in Wales. From tomorrow, up to six people will be able to meet indoors, with limits on outdoor events removed. Then, if the situation with serious illness and hospitalisations remains under control, most existing restrictions will be lifted on the 7th August. Our ability to move away from restrictions is down to the amazing success of our vaccination programme, but it’s important we all continue to follow common sense guidance and exercise caution to make sure we don’t throw away the progress we have made.
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!