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Government must do the decent thing and ‘Cancel the Cut’ says City MP after hearing from local Citizens Advice

Stephen Morgan MP has today renewed his call for the Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week to be scrapped and called on others to get Ministers to ‘Cancel the Cut’

The latest intervention comes after hearing from Portsmouth Citizens Advice on the importance of the campaign and ahead of a debate on Monday in Parliament where the official opposition will force a vote by Government to justify its decision.

Contacting the city MP this week, Portsmouth Citizens Advice said:

“Every day our advisers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Our local office is proud to have support 1207 people with Universal Credit during the crisis.  

However, the new national lockdown will further impact local people’s lives, and many will struggle if the uplift expires.

The uplift has been a vital lifeline for local people, safeguarding quality of life and helping to prevent permanent economic scarring. Citizens Advice and organisations across the country will be working together to encourage the Chancellor to keep the lifeline, as well as extend the uplift to legacy benefits”.

The total Universal Credit caseload in Portsmouth South, Morgan’s constituency, has risen to 11693 – a 108% increase since March. The changes to Universal Credit could take around £10,900,000 out of the local economy, or more if the caseload increases. 

The Portsmouth South MP has taken a range of actions in recent months to urge the Government to cancel the cut to universal credit including writing to the Chancellor in November to urge him to reconsider the policy decision, submitting parliamentary questions to Ministers, and arranging for a motion at Portsmouth City Council to lobby Government to cancel the cut, but was not supported by local Tories.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Universal Credit is a lifeline to many people in Portsmouth and across the country. Right now people are relying on it more than ever.

“Cuts to Universal Credit, especially during this time of crisis, is not only morally bankrupt, but would cause serious economic damage to our economy and its and our city’s ability to recover from this crisis.

“That’s why I am calling on the government to cancel the cut and will continue to push Ministers to make sure claimants get the support they so desperately need”.

Mr Morgan has called on the Chancellor last week to set out his wider strategy on economic support for Portsmouth as he prepares to announce his budget in March.

On Monday, during an opposition day debate, Labour will force a vote on the proposed cut to universal credit to urge the Government to think again over their plans.

On this, the city MP added:

“The Government must do the right thing on Monday, and stop the planned £20 a week, or £1000 a year, cut to Universal Credit due for April 2021, which will hit Britain’s poorest households.

“I’ll be doing the decent thing on Monday when MPs come to vote. I hope the Government do too”.

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Stephen Morgan MP volunteers with PiTC to deliver meals to local residents

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP used parliamentary recess to volunteer to deliver food to local residents as part of his wider work with local charity Pompey in the Community (PiTC).

Time was also spent by the city MP reading poems online for use by local schools, and helping the Blue Kitchen project which aims to encourage Portsmouth families cook fresh food affordably.

The charity has provided a range of support and services for local residents throughout the pandemic. In partnership with others, PiTC were able to get 60 meals a day to be delivered to those who needed it most during the summer lockdown of 2020.

This comes as the country entered a third period of lockdown this week as Covid-19 infections levels continue to rise throughout the UK.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It is critically important that those who are unable to access basic essentials such as food are continued to be supported by our local community, just in the way they have in previous lockdowns.

“PiTC have done an incredible job over the last twelve months in providing support to our local community and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts.

“It was a pleasure to use parliamentary recess to find out more about their invaluable work for our city and offer a helping hand”.

For more information about the work of Pompey in the Community visit https://pompeyitc.co.uk

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Portsmouth MP urges local people volunteer with city’s vaccination programme

Stephen Morgan MP is calling for members of the city’s community to come forward to take part in supporting the city’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, via charity, HIVE Portsmouth.

From 18 January, HIVE Portsmouth is aiming to provide volunteers to support Solent NHS Trust and the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.

Volunteers will be needed 7 days a week, working in shifts, to help guide patients arriving and departing from the vaccination centre in a timely and safe manner.

Members of the public can register via HIVE Portsmouth’s website.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

“This is a fantastic opportunity, for those that feel safe to do so, to support our city’s and the country’s historic effort in the fight against coronavirus.

“The vaccine is our way out of this and it is now so important that we all do our bit, where we can, to roll it out and vaccinate Britain.

“HIVE Portsmouth has been a central pillar to our city’s efforts throughout this pandemic and I want to thank them for this and their wider efforts over the past year.”

The Portsmouth South MP has previously underlined the importance of the government scaling up its Covid-19 Vaccination Programme as fast as possible.

 

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City MP connects with local veteran on Christmas Day as part of ‘Christmas Calls’ campaign

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has connected with a Portsmouth veteran as part of The News and Age UK Portsmouth’s ‘Christmas Calls’ campaign, designed to combat loneliness for elderly people in the city this festive season.

The campaign pairs up each participant with someone from the Portsmouth area who may be facing Christmas Day and the festive season alone.

Stephen spoke to Linda, a 75-year-old Women’s Royal Air Force veteran, who has lived in Portsmouth for 21 years.

They discussed her RAF service, and how she subsequently moved to the city to be closer to family.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Loneliness and isolation will sadly be much more common for many of us this Christmas as we endure renewed coronavirus restrictions. But this fantastic campaign has allowed me to connect with Linda and rekindle the spirit of kindness and friendship that characterises the season.

“As a former trustee of Age UK Portsmouth I know just how valuable their work is to communities, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

“I am proud to have taken part in The News and Age UK Portsmouth’s fantastic campaign to combat loneliness within our community.

I hope many will continue to stay part of the scheme beyond this period too.”

 

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Help and support this Christmas

If you or your family is struggling and in need of support over Christmas, there is help at hand. You are not alone.

Help with food

Local food banks can provide emergency food parcels over Christmas and New Year. Foodbanks provide around three days food for your household if you can’t afford to buy food.

The Salvation Army on Albert Road is providing emergency food parcels from 24 Dec – 3rd Jan (including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) via phone request. Call: 023 9282 1164

You can find all Portsmouth food bank and community meal opening times over Christmas at: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/helpwithfood

Help with mental wellbeing

If you’re struggling to cope, feeling anxious, lonely or depressed, you’re not alone.

You can call the Samaritans free anytime, from any phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Young people or parents and carers worried about a child’s wellbeing can also contact Childline via the website childline.org.uk or by calling 0800 1111. There is more advice, information and support at: portsmouth.gov.uk/mentalhealth

Help for vulnerable adults and children

You can contact the adult social care team on 023 9268 0810 or email ASCoppdAdmin@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. The out of hours contact number is 023 9268 0810.

You can contact the children’s social care and safeguarding team on 023 9283 9111 or 023 9268 8793 or email MASH@secure.portsmouthcc.gov.uk. The out of hours contact number is 0300 555 1373.

Help for victims of domestic abuse

Call Aurora New Dawn on 023 9421 6816. Get advice and information at stopdomesticabuse.uk or by calling 0330 016 5221 between 9.30am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

Help for rough sleepers

The Homeless Day Service is open every day, including Christmas Day, 8am-4pm.

Anyone who is sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough can access the service for breakfast, snacks, hot drinks and other services like laundry facilities. Call: 023 9288 2689 Visit: Yew House Ground Floor, Milton Road, PO3 6BA (next to Hope House)

Help if you’re unwell

If you need medical help, call the NHS on 111 or use NHS 111 online. Don’t just show up at the Emergency Department (Accident and Emergency) – use 111 first, and they’ll give you all the support you need. If it is a medical emergency, call 999.

Coronavirus testing

Local Test Centres in Portsmouth and the Regional Test Centre in Southampton will be open every day over the festive season. Find out the opening times at: portsmouth.gov.uk/christmas

To request a test call 119 or visit: gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Additional support – HIVE Portsmouth

If you are in need of additional support please visit the HIVE Portsmouth directory of services at: www.hiveportsmouth.org.uk/hive-directory

The HIVE Portsmouth helpline (023 9261 6709) will be closed between 4pm on 23 December and 9am on 28 December and between 4pm on 31 December and 9am on 4 January.

When the helpline is closed HIVE Portsmouth will continue to check social media messages and may refer you to other organisations that can offer you support.

Find HIVE Portsmouth via @HIVEPortsmouth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and send them a direct message.

This list has been provided with thanks by Portsmouth City Council’s communications team and is correct as at 22 December 2020

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Second national lockdown: Where to find help

Where to find help

During this second national lockdown, there are a number of support services available for constituents and for those in need. This is a summary of key contacts to help you and your family get through this challenging time for our city.

National Government

It’s important to get official advice, and not rely on what people might be saying, especially on social media.

Government advice can be found at:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

NHS advice:

www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Portsmouth City Council

Most services continue to operate. Following government instructions, the council has taken steps to help ensure the wellbeing of customers, staff and the wider community.

For the latest news on council services, up-to-date coronavirus safety advice and other information to help in the current situation, go to:

www.portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus

023 9268 8004 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

HIVE Portsmouth

Help for vulnerable people If you’re in need of food or medicine deliveries, or other help, please call:

www.hiveportsmouth.org.uk

023 9261 6709 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

Medical help

If you need medical help, call the NHS on 111. If it’s an emergency, call 999.

Domestic abuse

For domestic abuse advice and support call 023 9206 5494 (9am – 9pm Monday to Friday) or go to www.stopdomesticabuse.uk If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

For more sources of help click on vulnerable people at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus

Other support

Advice on money and work Advice Portsmouth offers free advice on benefits, debt, employment and consumer issues:

023 9279 4340

Text 07789 550593

portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk

Citizens Advice can help with new Universal Credit claims:

0800 144 8444

www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Council tenants can call their housing office for advice.

For more advice and information on sick pay, benefits, food banks, scams and money concerns, click on work and money at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus

Trade unions have been taking a range of actions to protect employment, wages and keep people safe at work. The TUC has a simple guide for those who are looking to join a union and they have guidance and advice available on their website:

www.tuc.org.uk/joinunion

www.tuc.org.uk/CoronavirusProtectingWorkers

Stephen’s constituency office

To protect vulnerable people and help stop the spread of Covid-19 the constituency office at 72 Albert Road has currently stopped face-to-face enquiries but is still helping hundreds of Stephen’s constituents each week.

If you have casework or need help:

stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk

www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/

023 9229 1088

Please note since the crisis the amount of correspondence Stephen has increased significantly, with the volume more than trebling. His office is therefore currently prioritising urgent cases and we thank you for your patience.

This information was up-to-date on 6 November 2020

 

 

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Portsmouth support to feed children over the school holiday

In the UK today, 4.2 million children live in poverty. 2.5 million children live in “food insecure” households – without access to the food they need to learn, play and grow.

On Wednesday, Conservative MPs blocked a Labour plan to provide Free School Meals over the school holidays, that would have ensured the poorest children in our society have at least one healthy and nutritious meal a day.

Stephen voted for this plan for the most vulnerable in Portsmouth, sadly the Government did not.

Since then, there has been an outpouring of people in our city looking for ways they can help children who don’t have enough food, and from parents struggling to make sure that their children have enough.

Stephen Morgan MP said: 

“I want to thank all those who are helping Portsmouth families at this challenging time for our city.

With the number of free school meals rising again, sharply to over 7,000 in Portsmouth alone, this has been a growing issue for some time. The steep rise will only get worse.

With Government failing, we will work together here in Portsmouth to ensure everyone has the support they need”.

Below are just some initiatives and charities based in Portsmouth, that help provide the basics to those who need it, and are always looking for volunteers or donations to keep their vital work going.

No food bank voucher needed:

The Life House
Address: 153 Albert Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO4 0JW
Services: Serves Breakfast / Brunch each Wednesday from 9am / Serves Hot Dinner each Thursday from 6pm
Food parcel if available
Opening times: Every Thursday 8pm-6pm Wednesday morning 9am-11am

Free My Meal – Portsmouth
Address: Private Facebook group set up by residents https://www.face book.com/groups /freemymealports mouth/
Services: Group intends to connect free meals with recipients. Recipients looking for a meal to feed their family during this time of hardship.
Opening times: Ongoing

The Lord John Russell – Food Bank
Address: 12 Albert Road, Southsea, PO5 2SH
Service: Food bank drive on Monday (26/10/20) to support the Life House and those who haven’t got enough on their plates
Opening times: Monday (26/10/20)

St Margaret’s Community Church
Address: Highland Road, PO4 9DD
Service: 2 day food parcel
Food needed: Cereals, tinned & packet soup, pasta and pasta sauce, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, crisps, biscuits, UHT milk, long life juice
Opening times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (8am-11am for donations, 10am-11am for people needing food

Haven Community Centre
Address: Lake Road, PO1 4HA
Service: No voucher needed for first 3 visits 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Tuesday 1-3pm and Friday 10am-12pm

Food bank voucher needed:

From PCC website (https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/services/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-residents-coronavirus-infor mation/work-and-money-coronavirus-information/):

Advice Portsmouth – the drop-in centre is closed. For advice, ring 023 92794 340, text 07789 550593, email ​advice.portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk​ or contact via ​Facebook
Citizens Advice Help To Claim (for advice on new Universal Credit claims) – there is currently no face to face advice, so for advice ring 0800 144 8 444 or use the ​online webchat
City council tenants – ​ring your housing office​ for money advice
Housing association tenants – contact your customer service team for money advice

Harbour Church

Address: St. George’s Square, PO1 3AT
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Monday 11am-12pm, Tuesday 11am-12pm, Wednesday 11am-12pm and Thursday 11am-12pm and 4-6pm

King’s Church Hall
Address: Fraser Road Southsea PO5 1EE
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Monday 12-2pm Wednesday 12-2pm Friday 12-2pm

North End Baptist Church
Address: Powerscourt Road Portsmouth, PO2 7JH
Service: Food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Tuesday 5-6pm and Thursday 1-3pm

Paulsgrove Baptist Church
Address: 1 Woofferton Road Portsmouth, PO6 4DW
Service: Food bank voucher required, 3-day food parcel
Opening times: Thursday 12-2pm

Family Church Caring Hands
Address: Empower Centre, 83-87 Kingston Road, PO2 7DX
Service: Caring Hands food bank voucher or email referral required, 3-day food parcel, Home delivery preferred
Opening times: Thursday 10.30am-12.30pm

If you can please make a donation to Portsmouth Foodbanks at the following supermarkets: 

  • Tesco Extra (Pompey Centre Fratton) – Front of store near exit
  • Tesco Extra (North Harbour) – Front of store near exit
  • Waitrose, Southsea – End of tills

 

 

 

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Remembrance Sunday: City MP backs call for doorstep two-minute silence

Stephen Morgan MP has joined calls including by the Royal British Legion for a doorstep two-minute silence, giving people a new way to honour our fallen heroes on Remembrance Sunday 2020.

Remembrance Sunday will look very different this year, as social distancing means many parades and memorials have been called off.

At 11am on Remembrance Sunday (which is 8 November this year), people around the country will be encouraged to stand on their doorstep for a two-minute silence.

The aim of the initiative will allow people to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, while ensuring that everybody stays safe.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“This year we will not be able to come together on Remembrance Sunday in the same way we would usually, to stand together to remember the millions of people from across the United Kingdom, and from across the world, who sacrificed so much to keep us safe.

I’m delighted to support this campaign, backed by the Royal British Legion, that will ensure that we can together honour those who have paid the price for our security, whilst also ensuring we can do so safely.

I urge all the people of Portsmouth to step forward and remember those who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Mr Morgan has continued to encourage the city council to do all it can to allow people to safely mark Remembrance in the city. He has been pushing the government to issue guidance to local bodies for Remembrance Sunday 2020.

The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP, has also joined the Royal British Legion and others in backing the initiative.

 

 

 

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City MP backs local Portsmouth charity’s ‘Shrink the elephant’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service’s (PARCS) campaign to ‘shrink the elephant’, that aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual abuse and challenge cultural norms that perpetuate abuse.

The charity argues sexual abuse can sometimes feel like the elephant in the room, and believes we all have the power to ‘shrink the elephant’.

The campaign comes as part of PARCS’ wider initiative ‘Project Catalyst’, that seeks to support and empower local young women in Portsmouth to become leaders in the reduction of violence and abuse against women and girls.

Stephen Morgan MP commented:

“I am proud to support PARCS’ important campaign to highlight the challenges survivors of sexual violence and domestic/sexual abuse face everyday.

The work of the entire team of PARCS and Project Catalyst is truly inspiring and I am keen to do all I can to offer the support they need.”

It was reported in late July that more than 40,000 calls and contacts were made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during the first three months of lockdown, most by women seeking help.

In June, calls and contacts were nearly 80% higher than usual, according to charity Refuge, which runs the helpline.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“I’m deeply concerned by the recent figures that have shown a worrying spike in cases of domestic abuse nationally, particularly during lockdown.

“As we head into the winter period and the risk of a second lockdown looms, it is incredibly vital these issues experienced both here in Portsmouth and nationally are raised in Parliament, and I will be doing just that in the coming weeks.”

Mr Morgan went to visit PARCS in his constituency ofPortsmouth South earlier this month, and has previously written to the Home Secretary earlier this year, highlighting the rise of domestic abuse in the UK during lockdown.

 

 

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City MP pays tribute to the Merchant Navy on Merchant Navy Day for its historic and continued efforts

Stephen Morgan MP has marked Merchant Navy Day by paying tribute to the Merchant Navy for its historic and continued contribution to the UK and its operations around the world.

The Merchant Navy is the collective term for commercial shipping and includes a variety of vessels from cruise ships to tankers and cargo ships of all description.

According to the charity Seafarers UK, the maritime community charity, merchant seafarers are responsible for more than 90% of the UK’s imports, including almost half of the food we eat, much of the fuel we use, and virtually all the products and goods we tend to take for granted.

Mr Morgan commented,

“The Merchant Navy has played a critical role in our nation’s history, from keeping us going through both world wars, to today in continuing to support our overseas trade around the world.

“Today on Merchant Navy Day it’s important we recognise and pay thanks to our Merchant Navy for all that they do and ensure that their efforts are never taken for granted.”

Seafarers UK are campaigning for the fifth year running for the Red Ensign – the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag – to be flown on 3rd September on civic buildings and landmark flagpoles. Parish, community, town, city, district and borough councils were all invited to take part, along with higher-tier local authorities and governments.

The Portsmouth South MP added,

“I’m proud to support Seafarers UK’s campaign to encourage the Red Ensign to be proudly flown from civic buildings and landmarks across our country – including in Portsmouth.

“It’s crucial the efforts of our Merchant Navy are understood and recognised by communities throughout our nation, and it’s why I’m delighted to be supporting this brilliant initiative that plays a part in doing just that.”