The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic with surgeries, canvasses, Labour Party events and visits in and around the constituencies.
Other highlights have been my regular meeting with the Chair of the Primary Care Trust (Ian Reynolds) and Finance Director to discuss various issues that the PCT is dealing with. (You can find out more about our PCT by going to their website on www.wandsworth.nhs.uk) Issues we discussed included the Healthcare for London plans, long term plans for Battersea and North Wandsworth, the Bolingbroke, Putney Primary Care Centre as well as the Financial Plan for 2007/08. I have been really impressed with the senior management team of the PCT and was very pleased that their finances are now very healthy again.
I also attended the AGM of the PCT, which was held in Battersea. Martin Linton MP and Cllr Tony Belton (Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors) were also there.
It is a real shame that no Tory Councillor or MP in Wandsworth could bother to turn up to this important event.
I also helped raise awareness of the need to regularly check Blood Pressure by visiting a Pressure Station in the foyer of St George’s Hospital, Tooting. The free blood pressure checking stations have been organized around the country by Tooting based charity The Blood Pressure Association. Uncontrolled and undetected high blood pressure is the biggest cause of death and disability through stroke, heart attack and heart disease and it is thought that more than 5 million adults in the UK have high blood pressure without knowing it. For more in formation visit the Blood Pressure Association’s website by clicking HERE. To see a photo of me having my blood pressure checked click HERE.
This Week I was interviewed by a number of young people from Wandsworth as part of a project organised by the Wandsworth Empowerment Networks and supported by the Peabody Trust and Wandsworth Police, along with a Home Office fund. Throughout the summer Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network along with STORM empowerment have been working with Mo aM Films training and up skilling a group of young people from the estates of Wandsworth to use digital video recording equipment and to make a film about what it is like to be young and growing up in Wandsworth today. As part of this project they interviewed local decision makers including the new Borough Commander and myself. They asked be very difficult and incisive questions and I’m sure will make a great film. It is really encouraging to see these young people get involved in projects like this and engaging with the issues that affect them locally. To see a photo of my with the young film-makers click HERE.
I am always keen to find out how the record sums of investment this Labour Government has spent on the NHS is having an impact on the ground. I really enjoyed my visit to the Mitcham Medical Centre on Garratt Lane to discuss with the GP's their experiences of serving literally thousands of local patients in the last few years and more recently. I was pleased at the positive impact some of the changes are having and have agreed to look into some of the concerns the doctors expressed.
Very often it is necessary to go outside the constituency to visit and lean from services that are serving local residents very well. An example of this is the Randall Close Day Centre in Battersea, which does such a great job serving older citizens from around the Borough. After meeting the centre managers I spent time with some of the users. Unfortunately, as it is the month of Ramadan and I was fasting I was unable to enjoy the excellent looking and smelling food! I have, very sensibly, agreed to go back when I am not fasting to sample the lunches....
As part of London Peace week, Balham and Tooting Community Association organised a Ceremony of Peace and Remembrance outside Tooting Broadway tube station. This multi faith event was extremely well attended by all faith leaders and local residents who joined in lighting candles and listening to the short prayers said by leaders of our local churches, temples, gurdwaras, mosques and synagogues.
The highlight for me over the last couple of weeks, however, has to be the "Imagined Voices" reception held in the Houses of Commons by students from Burntwood School. Burntwood was chosen as one of only two schools in England to work with Rommi Smith, Parliamentary Writer in Residence, for the exhibition ’The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People’ at Westminster Hall. Rommi Smith worked with students in Years 8, 9 and 12 to produce a collection of writing with the theme of "Imagined Voices". Local students looked at the experience of the enslaved in Britain and abroad, in the past and in the present, and produced their own writing in response to what they discovered. A collection of the students’ work produced from these sessions will be published later this year in an anthology entitled "Imagined Voices". I mention the important work the school is doing on this issue during the Parliamentary debate on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Slave Trade. To read my contribution to the debate click HERE. To see a photo of me with the Parliamentary Writer in Residence and pupils from Burntwood click HERE.
I also met with Father William Hebborn of St Anselms Church and Tom Gately from St Anselms School to discuss a very exciting "Interfaith" project they have planned. More on this in future pages of the web to follow I hope.
The Furzedown Project continues to go from strength to strength. I was really pleased to be on of the Guest Speakers at their AGM. This is my 3rd AGM of the Project as MP and I continue to look forward to my visits to the Centre. More than 60 users and friends turned up to the AGM where a healthy range of well attended activities, an excellent team of staff, trustees and helpers meant that in addition to the Project having stable finances, they have an ever growing list of users and members as well as excellent links continuing to grow with all sections of the local community; from young to older. You can find out more about the Furzedown Project by visiting their website at www.furzedownproject.org.uk