Parliament returned from conference recess this week and on Tuesday I was in the Chamber to ask the Prisons Minister about the failings of drug services in prisons as the problem seems to be getting worse not better. The Minister agreed to meet with me to discuss this further. Prison Officers are too often working in intolerable conditions, facing violence, hostility and chronic understaffing. Only this week a Prison Officer was strangled unconscious by an inmate. Drug epidemics in prisons only makes this worse and it’s crucial the Government gets a grip on this crisis.
Wednesday was World Mental Health Day. I welcome the announcement of a Minister for Suicide Prevention, an area that has been neglected for too long. Family members of those who have taken their lives have told me about how difficult they’ve found it to gain access to support in the aftermath, despite the fact that 1 in 10 people bereaved by suicide will make a suicide attempt themselves. But it’s a meaningless announcement if it isn’t accompanied by proper investment in front line mental health services. The reality is that despite the talk, mental health services are still being chronically underfunded by this government, which means that thousands of children and vulnerable adults aren’t getting the treatment they need. That has got to change.
I co-hosted an event in Parliament in support of the campaign for fairer funding for our schools. How the Tories can have the audacity to say austerity is at an end when schools, like so many of our vital public services, are struggling to cope with the loss of thousands of teachers, dilapidated school buildings, inadequate resources for special educational needs support, and increasingly relying on parent donations to pay for the essentials. When you have 2,000 Head Teachers marching on Downing Street demanding action, most of whom have never protested in their life, it’s clear the situation is unsustainable. With two weeks to go until Budget Day, I hope the Chancellor is listening.
On Thursday, I met with senior staff at YMCA North London and am working with Haringey council services to ensure young homeless people receive all the support they desperately need.
Back in the constituency, I held a busy advice surgery on Friday morning, met with Kidz Kabin nursery to discuss their concerns on the Government’s inadequately funded 30 free hours offer, and visited Jacksons Lane to find out more about their exciting refurbishment plans.
Finally, I’m pleased that Haringey Council will be holding a Special Licensing Committee Review Meeting next week to look at the Live Nation / Festival Republic events in Finsbury Park. I recently attended a very helpful tri-borough meeting organised by Haringey Council in response to concerns that are still being raised by local residents me about noise, anti-social behaviour, litter and damage caused to the park. I am extremely pleased that the Council have responded so positively to the suggestion of appointing a full-time Park Ranger.