Can you help me provide a little Christmas cheer at the DGH? This time last year I went out to our town to ask if you could help me by providing some Christmas presents for those who are moving on from foster care, and the response was just stunning.
So this year I would like to do the same but with another group society often overlooks - but really shouldn’t. It’s for those old, often frail women and men, who will be in the DGH over Christmas but do not have anyone to visit or give them a present. It strikes me that it would be lovely if we could do something for people in that situation. To be stuck in hospital over Christmas with no-one to come and see you or to bring a gift mist be a bit tough frankly. So can you help me make their Christmas this year just that little bit special?
If you can, please drop off your gift (unwrapped) to my office at 100 Seaside Road, BN21 3PF. It’s just up from the Hippodrome. The office is open in the last week up to Christmas from 10am - 4pm on Monday/Tuesday/Thursday and 10am - 12noon on the Wednesday. Please bear in mind these presents are for elderly people so do need to be appropriate. Thanks. The hospital has also asked there be no alcohol because of it being, obviously, a hospital!
If you are able to help please drop the presents off at my office as soon as, so my team can wrap them beforehand. I’ll then personally drive around to the DGH on Friday December 22, where the staff at the hospital will be ready to collect, store and distribute on Christmas Day.
The DGH has told me that I need around 100 presents, so, let’s make a whole bunch of our elderly neighbours who weren’t expecting much of anything on Christmas Day happy, by showing them just how much our town cares for it’s own.
Up in Westminster this week it’s been another eventual few days. I challenged the government on Monday about how they appear determined to ignore the anxious calls from 5,000 headteachers across the country (including many of our own) that schools budgets are reaching a desperate state for next year and beyond, and the Department of Education simply must wake up to the dangers.
It’s unparalleled for headteachers to go public with their concerns so I do hope the government come forward soon with extra resource before, according to these heads, real damage is done.
Our children’s future is too important for these warnings to be ignored.
I also attended and spoke on behalf of WASPi women this week. These are women born in the 50’s who have all had their pensions age changed. I’ve reminded Parliament before that all the political parties bear responsibility for this - something which doesn’t go down well with everyone in the Chamber - some of whom are just keen to play political games over this whole sorry episode by blaming everyone else, and forgetting the role their own party’s played in the various policy decisions over the last 20 years.
I urged the government to come up with a transition payment for those women affected and emphasised that, in my view, such a move would receive cross-party support.
Another combative debate this week was to do with the long-running EU Withdrawal Bill. A respected former minister, the Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, put down an amendment to the Bill which would ensure Parliament will be able to scrutinise and vote on the final exit treaty when the government brings it back after negotiations are completed with the EU.
I supported this as it was not about stopping Brexit (which I promised I would not oppose) but it does ensure Parliament has meaningful oversight on the Treaty, which is how it should be in a Parliamentary democracy. I note though that an awful lot of people who voted to leave the EU, citing they wanted a return to Parliamentary sovereignty, do seem awfully exercised when Parliament did just that on Wednesday night!
In conclusion, if you can help with my plan to provide a Christmas present to the 100 or so elderly men and women who will be on their own in hospital this Christmas, please do. I am sure it will lift their spirits just a tad. That’s it folks. Have a good weekend, and I hope to see you around town.