The news headlines have been troubling this week, with the continuing aftermath of flooding, the collapse of Flybe, and the developments surrounding Coronavirus being particularly concerning.
I know that Coronavirus is something that many people are increasingly anxious about – and the way the situation is developing in other countries is undeniably a cause for concern. I am reassured though that both the Welsh Labour Government and, indeed, UK Government Ministers have been proactive about how to best manage this virus and this, of course, has to be led by experts. I know the Welsh Chief Medical Officer has been working closely with Welsh Government Health Minister, Vaughan Gething AM, to issue necessary advice, monitor the situation, and adapt Wales’ response efficiently in response to events. While the risks associated with contracting the virus are minimal for many, it’s important to follow the current advice to maintain strong personal hygiene through regular and thorough handwashing and to follow any new instructions as and when they are issued. Should you believe that you are suffering from Coronavirus, please don’t go to your GP. Instead, call 111 and the team will be able to assist you. I will, of course, be monitoring the situation and will continue to share any useful updates for constituents through my social media feeds.
It’s still business as usual in Westminster though, and much of my week has again focussed on issues surrounding domestic abuse, as the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill finally returns to Parliament. I started the week by attending a cross-party event looking at financial abuse, where we heard from the SafeLives and Surviving Economic Abuse charities, and NatWest bank. Financial abuse can be hard to spot, even by those experiencing it. Economic abuse is set to be defined for the first time in law as part of the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill but we need to raise awareness amongst the public that this is as damaging and pernicious as more well-known forms of abuse.
Following St. David’s Day on Sunday, I was delighted to attend a reception at the United States’ Embassy on Monday evening alongside fellow Welsh MPs. It was a really positive opportunity to meet the US Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson, and to shout loudly and proudly about everything that is great about Wales. I was really pleased that the Welsh Labour Government’s Counsel General, Jeremy Miles AM, addressed those who attended and spoke about the importance of Welsh-American cooperation. As I said in my St. David’s Day speech last week, it’s vital that we continue highlighting what’s happening in Wales and ensure our voice is always heard.
On Tuesday, I was pleased to respond to a Westminster Hall debate on child victims of domestic abuse within my role as Shadow Home Office Minister. The impact on children is often overlooked when thinking about domestic abuse but across the country, the lived experiences of so many people who have been exposed to it demand to be acted upon. A staggering 1 in 7 children and young people witness domestic abuse at some point during their childhood. It’s clear to me that one of the key parts of the system that doesn’t work for victims and survivors of domestic abuse is family courts. All too often, the right of the perpetrator to see their child has been put above the interests of the child and this imbalance needs to be addressed. Whether awaiting trial, on bail, or facing ongoing criminal proceedings relating to domestic abuse, no suspected perpetrator should be given unsupervised access to their child. This debate was a really good opportunity to explore this issue and the many other issues facing young people caught up in situations involving domestic abuse.
Later in the week, I was thrilled to host the launch of Pausitivity’s “Know Your Menopause” campaign in Parliament alongside many inspirational women. I’m a keen advocate of the need to support women going through the menopause to play an active and positive role in our workplaces. The support on offer to help them do this at the moment is simply inadequate. Pausitivity have done some fabulous work to raise awareness of the menopause and its challenges and to push the conversation forward through their innovative poster campaign at GPs’ surgeries around the country. At the launch, it was great to be joined by Trisha Goddard, who spoke about the challenges she found with the menopause, and singer, Michelle Heaton, who has spoken so candidly about her experiences of early menopause at just 35 following a hysterectomy to reduce her risk of cancer. We need to hear more of these stories from women who have faced a vicious stigma for too long. I hope this campaign will further embolden the conversation around the menopause and strengthen support for older women in our workplaces and communities.
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 or by calling 01792 462054.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend!