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Newsletter: Croydon Coronavirus Update

My latest update includes:

1.       Lockdown revisions

2.       My work in Parliament

3.       Policing and domestic violence

4.       Message from Age UK

5.       Reminder of volunteering opportunities

6.       Getting in touch with me


Dear friend,


I write my latest update as the country looks set to begin loosening some its lockdown restrictions after seven weeks. Having heard the difficult news this week that the UK is likely to have the highest death rates from coronavirus in Europe, we can all take some comfort that hospitalisations in Croydon University Hospital are well down and I am proud of the efforts of the people of Croydon in the face of such unprecedented challenges.  But of course, there is still a long way to go.


Please continue to keep safe.


Best wishes,

Sarah Jones
Member of Parliament for Croydon Central
Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service

1. Lockdown Revisions

On Sunday we can expect to hear from the Prime Minister, and it is widely reported that some of the lockdown measures may be loosened, while the majority of measures remain in place for now.


We will all have taken some degree of comfort from the fact that current lockdown measures are clearly having an effect, with deaths and hospitalisations both showing a gradual decline over the past few weeks. But with the number of people sadly passing away still high, I must stress that the threat posed by this disease is still very real.


Whatever the announcement on Sunday brings, if we begin to relax our own individual approaches to social distancing, infections will rise again and there is the very real chance that we could hit a second wave. We must not undo all of the hard work done so far. There is no doubt we are in very difficult times, but please do consider your actions and ask yourself whether they are likely to increase the likelihood that the disease might spread.

2.  My work in Parliament

Last week, I made my first appearance in Parliament as Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service at the Fire Safety Bill debate. In the Chamber – where we all observed social distancing – I spoke at the despatch box and pressed the Government to go further to ensure the safety of the many residents in buildings wrapped in flammable cladding, and to make sure that we do not continue to fail to learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tragedy almost 3 years ago.

This week I was in Parliament again, with Tuesday seeing me question the Health Minister. I praised the incredible work of the staff at Croydon University Hospital, where over 250 people with coronavirus have sadly died. I also used the chance to question the fact that although very much in its early stages, the data so far seems to indicate that in Croydon and indeed across the UK, the virus seems to be disproportionally affecting those who are from poorer backgrounds, and specifically those who are from BAME communities. Across the UK, you are up to three times more likely to die from coronavirus if you are from a BAME background. This is an unsettling trend and one that I hope the Government is going to pay close attention to. We have long known of the health inequalities across this country, and it is deeply concerning just how much this disease has brought its extent to the fore.
 

On Tuesday I also made a speech from the front bench about fire services in the north west. I highlighted the cuts that have taken place over the past decade to our fire services; there has been a fall of over 11,000 fire service personnel over the period, equivalent to a 20% reduction in the service. I asked the Government to consider reversing this trend in light of the pivotal work that our firefighters carry out every day, a fact especially clear during the coronavirus crisis where firefighters have stepped up to drive ambulances, assist with the delivery of essential goods and I even hear have helped deliver babies!
 

This week’s Prime Minister’s Question time was the first time the Prime Minister and new Labour Leader Keir Starmer were opposite each other. So, I was pleased to appear on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky News to discuss coronavirus and the issues raised. I particularly highlighted the issues in care homes – where the death rates are 280% higher than they normally would be at this time of year – nearly 6% of the care home population have died in the last month and the government does need to get a grip of that situation.

3.  Policing and domestic abuse

I have been in regular contact with senior police and government ministers getting updates about policing during this crisis. Many have commented on the positive and cooperative response to the lockdown from the general public, and how this has allowed for police to be proactive in their work.  As so many crimes such as burglary have of course reduced, and the police are not engaged in their normal activity policing large events such as football matches, they have managed to spend more time investigating serious and organised crime and have made many arrests and closed down hundreds of county lines across London.  This ability to be proactive should be the norm for police forces going forward, and we desperately need the promised recruitment of 20,000 police to take place so that they can be effective in keeping us safe.

One crime has particularly increased during this period – domestic violence.  I am really pleased that the council is running a campaign to promote the services that are available for victims.  Victims often feel entirely alone, but help is there, and it is so important people know where to find it. https://wp.croydon.gov.uk/newsroom/off-licences-and-supermarkets-to-publicise-domestic-abuse-help/

4.  Update from Age UK

This is an especially worrying time for the elderly across our community, and Age UK have been in touch with me with some important messages.

Firstly, over 65s in the UK who are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms can now apply to be tested for the virus. Whilst this is promising, it is concerning that this can only be accessed online, with evidence indicating that a large portion of this age group do not have access to online services.

Last week new guidance was published on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health and social care workers in the current Covid-19 pandemic. It included specific guidance for domiciliary and care home providers on how to work safely, laying out the recommended PPE items for specific settings and situations.

We know that many older people and their loved ones have been very worried and confused about what PPE they should expect their care workers to be using and this new guidance provides some clarity on this, however, does not tackle the ongoing issue of supply.

5.  Reminder of volunteering opportunities

As ever I would like to take the opportunity to remind constituents of the various volunteer opportunities available across Croydon during the coronavirus crisis.

If you are able to please consider signing up to volunteer here with Croydon Voluntary Action. They are undertaking a significant operation across the community ensuring that those who need support the most are able to access it, from food to offering emotional support via phonecalls. They have established a centralised helpline for vulnerable people to contact should they need it which is 020 8253 7076. 

Atop of this, Croydon Mutual Aid continues to offer an informal volunteering service across Croydon. You can find out more information about this group and how to get involved here.
 

Finally, foodbanks across Croydon continue to need donations, the full list of which can be found on my coronavirus hub here.

 

6. My office and getting in touch


Despite the coronavirus outbreak I will be continuing to work on constituent cases via email, and my office will be increasing the opening hours of its telephone line. I will, however, be closing my office to members of the public and holding my regular advice surgeries by telephone until further notice.
 
This is to ensure that we maximise the number of people we can help remotely and minimise the risk of spreading infection.
 
If you or someone you know needs to get in touch with me - please contact me at this email: sarah.jones.mp@parliament.uk

For further information about the coronavirus please see the coronavirus hub on my website. 
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