Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and I marked it hosting a special event organised by Haringey Mind aimed at addressing issues that contribute to rising suicide rates. That evening I chaired a meeting in Parliament to discuss the mental health crisis in schools, alongside the Head of Seven Sisters Primary School in Haringey. Children and young people continue to be severely let down by inadequate mental health provision. Despite the Tory promise to give mental health the same priority as physical health, this is not happening. More than 60% of NHS trusts saw cuts to mental health budgets between 2011/12 and 2016/17. There are 5,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010 and a review of the NHS Five Year Forward View has found that money intended for mental health has been used to plug funding gaps in the wider NHS.
I’ll continue pushing the Government to increase spending on mental health services, ring-fence budgets and increase the proportion of budgets spent on children and young people.
For over two years now, I have been using Parliamentary Questions to challenge Government departments on their failure to pay the living wage to cleaning staff. On Tuesday, I raised the issue with the Chancellor (watch the video here) and called on him to commit to paying all cleaners in his department a London Living Wage they can afford to survive on.
The Tories talk a lot about work as the route out of poverty, but the reality is that the majority of households in poverty are working yet they still can’t make ends meet. It has a devastating impact on physical and mental health and it is a key driver of inequality in the UK.
Paying the small number of Whitehall cleaners the living wage wouldn’t make much of a dent in those figures. But it would send an important message about the Government’s intent to tackle in-work poverty and it could act as a catalyst for driving a living wage requirement through all its procurement processes. It is frustrating that these battles are still having to be fought, but I won’t give up until poverty pay is eradicated for good.
Wednesday brought the disappointing news that the Royal Mail are proposing to close Muswell Hill Delivery Office, sending customers who want to collect parcels all the way over to Wood Green. Since the Tory Lib Dem Coalition privatised Royal Mail back in 2013, there’s been a relentless programme of delivery office closures, with over 140 shutting their doors already as customer convenience and service quality are sacrificed for shareholder profit. I strongly oppose these shortsighted proposals and have requested an urgent meeting with Royal Mail to discuss.
Over the weekend I had a wonderful time at Ducketts Common for Haringey Has Pride, celebrating the role our borough played in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the 1980s. I was also honoured to attend and speak at a beautiful celebration at Wightman Road Mosque of Brother Alli’s life. He is very much missed.