Weekly Round-Up

We started the week with International Women’s Day and the theme has continued throughout the week! I was pleased to contribute to the debate on Government support for breastfeeding. We know that the first few months of a child’s life are crucial for their later development and that parents need support in their choices for their children. I welcome the Minister’s commitment to additional funding for breastfeeding support, but it is clear that the cuts, particularly to Sure Start, were a really bad false economy, with centres having closed, parents lacking support and advice, and children being let down. Disadvantaged mothers are more likely to have babies of low birth weight, and low birth weight is associated with raised blood pressure and coronary heart disease, as well as reduced educational attainment, qualifications and employment. Sure Start centres help to level up and supporting them would be a really easy, quick win for the Government to support women in optimal infant nutrition, particularly breastfeeding. 

I was pleased to speak at a Labour Women Bristol event for IWD on my experience as a woman in politics. We hear a lot about the abuse that women face online, and many female politicians experience the most appalling attacks. It is so important that we tackle the abuse that women face and build better support networks because women in politics ensures the representation that we need. The better our representation, the more diverse our representation and the better we can represent all our constituents and ensure that the UK is a country that promotes equality and tolerance.

President Zelensky of Ukraine addressed the House of Commons this week in a historic moment. It was incredibly moving to watch and listen to him talk about the resolve of Ukrainians to fight for their freedom. We must stand with them in any way we can – we must do more to help care for the people fleeing this terrible violence. I know constituents who have been affected and who are seeking to be reunited with their loved ones in safety. The UK Government must act immediately to ensure that there is a swift and reliable route for refugees to be able to come to the UK. It truly is the least we can do. 

I was pleased to join a meeting on the right to maintain contact organised by Rights for Residents, the Relatives and Residents Association, and John’s Campaign. It is so important for the mental wellbeing of patients in care that they are able to easily maintain contact with their loved ones. We have seen during the Covid pandemic the heart-breaking impact that being separated from loved ones has, and that is heightened when someone cannot fully understand why. These organisations are calling for recognition in law of the role that family plays in the lives of vulnerable people in care. Health and Social Care goes beyond simply what happens in care settings – it’s how we incorporate care into everyday life.

It was fantastic to visit Bridge Farm Primary School on Friday to meet the pupil parliament and to discuss parental engagement, the environment, rights respecting schools, and pupil voice. I often find talking with children reminds you of the important facts and the issues that impact our children. It was a pleasure to meet the pupil parliament and to hear about what is important to them.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.