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Shadow Armed Forces Minister shines a spotlight on veteran homelessness support

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan is joining over 70 members of charity staff, Community Union representatives and Shadow Defence Team colleagues in taking part in a run, walk, and cycle challenge to help end veteran homelessness.

Between team members, the target is to either run, walk or cycle over 1000 miles between now and Armed Forces Day on 27 June. in support of charity FirstLight Trust.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP is walking his constituency boundary for Portsmouth South, equating to roughly 20km.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ahead of Armed Forces Day on 27 June and after the relentless efforts of our troops amid Covid-19, we are reminded just how important our armed forces are.

I strongly support Community Union’s campaign to combat veteran homelessness and introduce measures that support the transfer from military to civilian life.

I urge people to give what they can to this worthwhile  cause and will continue to take action in parliament that puts the needs of our service-personnel first.”

The charitable efforts have been organised through Community Union, fundraising for the FirstLight Trust, an organisation that work on the ground to support veterans. From supporting ex-service personnel into employment to helping make the transition from military to civilian life, they offer wide ranging services.

Tom Blenkinsop, Community’s Operations Director, homelessness campaign lead and army reservist, said:

“At this time of year, our campaign aimed at ending veteran homelessness draws sharp focus on our need to remember our serving and former armed forces personnel in need at all times.

Many of Community’s members served and serve, they have family members who served and serve. It was Community members’ clear view to help end veteran homelessness.

But providing shelter to both our female and male veterans is not enough; it is simply one step. The transition from soldier to civilian is often the most difficult part of a veteran’s life.”

More information about the Community Union campaign can be found here

You can help make a difference and give to this campaign click here

 

 

 

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Show support to Portsmouth’s tourism online urges says city MP in virtual English Tourism Week

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is showing support for the first ever “virtual” English Tourism Week, backing the industry and highlighting its importance to the local economy.

Overall the tourism industry in Portsmouth supports about 12,500 jobs and brings around £40 million to the local economy year on year. Between 2016 and 2018 an average of 658,000 domestic overnight trips were taken to Portsmouth per year, and in 2018  the top overseas tourism markets for Portsmouth were Germany, France and the Czech Republic.

English Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, a week dedicated to showcasing England’s tourism offer. For this year’s virtual activities, respecting lockdown restrictions, took place between 25-31 May. Stephen Morgan MP has been working with VisitEngland to shine the spotlight on the importance of tourism to the local, regional and national economy and pledge their support to the sector’s recovery.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city boasts world-beating museums and historical assists spanning centuries, we must ensure that we all do our bit to preserve them for both the good of our city’s culture and economy.

The Mary Rose Museum, D-Day Story and other major attractions have all taken measures to allow visitors to enjoy their experiences online.

On English Tourism Week, I urge all those who are disappointed not to be out enjoying our city’s attractions to go online and see the outstanding efforts made to ensure some kind of visitor experience remains.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said:

“English Tourism Week is all about highlighting the economic benefits that tourism brings to local economies, celebrating our diverse and exciting sector, and showcasing the quality, range and value of English tourism.

“While we cannot run events as usual this year, the spirit of the week has never been more important.  Tourism has been one of the first and hardest hit economic sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s virtual week is dedicated to showing support for the industry, the millions of people who work in it and the hundreds of thousands of businesses impacted.

“It is also about looking towards the future recovery and doing everything we can right now to ensure that tourism can bounce back to once again become one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing more than 2.6 million people and generating more than £106 billion a year for the English economy.

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking a number of steps amid this pandemic to support Portsmouth’s normally thriving tourism sector.

He has already written to Minister’s on behalf of individual museums to outline financial struggles, asked parliamentary questions on small business support available to cultural assets, and remains in communication with the management of the city’s tourism sector.

For more information about this year’s virtual English Tourism Week please see: https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week

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New report finds Government “not doing enough” for military charities to support veterans

Portsmouth MP welcomes report findings and new support for charities but says government must now ‘provide proof in the delivery’

Statistics collated by the solicitor’s firm Bolt Burdon Kemp and Veterans Lifeline have revealed the lack of mental health support military veterans receive from government amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The data comes as the government today announced some funding for veterans’ charities, but questions remain about what delivery looks like and whether government should be providing services for veterans rather than helping charities.

On the support announced by government today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome that government has taken notice of what I and others have been saying that we need an urgent plan to address the feeling of abandonment among some in the veteran community.

However, it does leave a number of questions unanswered. How long will it take for payments to be made to charities? Who is eligible for the grants? When will the difference be seen at the coalface?

Had these announcements come earlier these are questions we could have posed at today’s departmental questions. I will continue to work with colleagues in the Shadow Defence team to make sure government not only promises improvement, but delivers for our nation’s veterans.”

The research published today includes the lack of mental health support with only 26% of charities thinking that the government supports the mental health of veterans; not enough overall support – 74% of charities say that the government and armed forces are not doing enough to support veterans; and; government and armed Forces’ onus – 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

On the statistics Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Sadly, these statistics do not come as a surprise. They reflect what the Shadow Defence team are hearing after listening to veterans’ charities and groups as were raised in Defence Questions today.

Social isolation, financial turmoil and pressure on mental health resulting from this pandemic means that support for our veterans’ community is needed now more than ever. It is therefore deeply concerning that government has closed services such as the Veterans UK helpline and urged some ex forces personnel who may be older to instead get in touch by email on by using the app.

The fact this decision has been made against the backdrop of VE Day, Captain Tom making ground-breaking contributions to our NHS, and our service personnel playing a crucial role in combating Covid-19, sends out the wrong message to our armed forces who continue to go above and beyond for the nation.”

The Ministry of Defence has cut support to veteran services, including the telephone helpline leaving thousands of potentially vulnerable ex-forces personnel without anyone to talk to.

Officials admit that more than 2,000 veterans have been forced to email for help instead of calling the MoD. They have also stopped processing new applications for war pensions, war widow pensions and compensation, and appeals have been postponed.

Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP added:

“Closing the Veterans UK helpline and asking older veterans who could be in their eighties or nineties to send an email instead is not good enough. Ministers should make it a priority to safely restart this service for those who need it”.

 

 

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City MP praises work of care providers during Covid-19 and consults over concerns

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has written out to over fifty care providers and residential homes to thank staff for their tireless efforts for our city and asking workers to keep him informed over PPE shortages

The latest action follows a series of steps to put pressure on Government to take urgent action to address the supply of personal protective equipment in the social care sector and pushing for regular testing for those working on the frontline.

The MP has lobbied the Health Secretary, submitted urgent parliamentary questions as well as written to the Prime Minister directly calling for greater measures to help NHS and social care services succeed in keeping people safe and well.

Writing to staff teams in over fifty care settings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Thank you and all your staff who are contributing such vital care for residents during this public health emergency.

During this crisis many of your staff will have family responsibilities and personal caring duties on top of their work responsibilities. 

On behalf of our whole community I would like to convey our thanks and admiration for the selfless work they continue to do”.

Ensuring local providers have a good supply of the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is a top priority for the city MP who is liaising with the city council, local resilience forum and Government departments over concerns.

Looking ahead to when the country recovers from the coronavirus crisis, the MP hopes lessons will be learnt in recognising the efforts of those working on the frontline. He added:

“I trust that when this pandemic has passed, society may recognise more clearly the interdependence we all have upon each other and show its appreciation to you and others on the frontline performing essential caring roles in more tangible ways”.

An online petition has been set up to show to Government the strength of feeling in Portsmouth for protecting staff on the frontline. To show your support for these efforts go to www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

 

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Government to support charities at time of crisis

Taking action after hearing concerns from Portsmouth’s voluntary and community sector, city MP Stephen Morgan is calling on the Government to support charities as they help the most vulnerable through the public health emergency and economic crisis

The Portsmouth South representative, formerly a charity chief executive himself, has already this week written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer raising concerns from the city’s voluntary and community sector.

A number of local groups and charities across Portsmouth have been reaching out to older people, vulnerable and high risk groups, whilst residents have been setting up online support groups to share advice and information.

Now working with NCVO, an umbrella group for the charities, he is calling on the government to do more to support.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in unprecedented times, but history has shown us what the charitable sector is capable of. I see for myself day in, day out, the difference voluntary and community groups make to people’s lives in Portsmouth.

They are already stepping up to protect the most vulnerable during this national crisis, and with Government support, they can do even more”.

A number of charities help alleviate the pressure on our NHS and social care services and provide support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, as well as helping with everything from mental health impacts to support for vulnerable families.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), and the Charity Finance Group have issued their own urgent calls to protect the charity sector.

Joining other MPs and these national associations calling on the Government to act Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Without an immediate injection of money, many charities of all sizes will soon close. Charity funds are running out, and some are already considering redundancies.

The NCVO predicts that charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks. The figure could be far higher”.

The NCVO are requesting Government to:

  • Provide immediate emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis
  • Provide a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • Establish an emergency grant fund
  • Confirm that charities are eligible for similar business interruption measures announced for business.
  • Urgently clarify the situation for the differing governance models of charities
  • Work with the UK’s largest philanthropic organisations and foundations, the National Lottery and others to identify grant funding which can be drawn down early over the coming days, or in addition from their reserves and existing grant programmes to help fill the growing gaps in the sector.

As well as this national lobbying the Portsmouth South MP is working with HIVE Portsmouth to ensure local voluntary and community efforts to help residents during this difficult time, are co-ordinated and helping the most vulnerable.

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“Veterans must play the lead role in commemorations”- City MP issues callout to WW2 ex-service personnel

Shadow Defence Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has issued a callout to all WW2 veterans in a bid to ensure due recognition of their feats.

Mr Morgan has joined up with The British Legion in encouraging veterans to register their attendance to events marking the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day, on the 8th May and 15th August.

Mr Morgan said:

“Victory in Europe Day and Victory over Japan Day will forever be milestones in the history of this nation.

As we approach the 75th anniversaries for these most significant days, it is essential that we reflect and remember the unfathomable achievements of those who sacrificed so much.

Central to that remembrance and commemoration process must be the veterans themselves. That is why I have joined the British Legion in calling on all WW2 veterans to take part in the events planned.”

Veterans can be of British, Commonwealth or Allied origin and all costs for their attendance will be met by The Royal British Legion and its partners. Registration closes for VE Day veterans on 17 February and for VJ Day veterans on 31 March.

Mr Morgan added:

“With the recent success of D-Day 75, that I am proud to say took place in Portsmouth, it has been made clear that veterans must play the lead role.

I commend The British Legion in working towards ensuring VE and VJ Day commemorations follow suit and look forward to joining others on the 8th May and 15th August in reflecting and remembering. “

Veterans can be of British, Commonwealth or Allied origin and all costs for their attendance will be met by The Royal British Legion and its partners.

Further information can be found here https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/remembrance-events

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City MP hits ground running with social enterprise GoodGym

Stephen Morgan MP praises work of city volunteers as he combined running shoes with a litter picker and joined local GoodGym representatives in Portsmouth.

The socially motivated running club, formed nearly two years ago in Portsmouth, seeks to combine fitness with community work.

Mr Morgan this weekend joined local volunteers removing litter from Portsmouth’s roadsides and pathways as part of the project based out of Fratton Community Centre.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This community of runners, motivated by improving their local area, are doing outstanding work from reducing social isolation to keeping the area clean.

Their vision to keep the community fit while also improving Portsmouth is the pioneering spirit that this city needs.

I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of GoodGym and encourage others to get involved. Especially in community projects aiming to improve the wellbeing of our older community members.”

GoodGym currently operates in 57 areas and has proposals to start in 82 other places.

There are variations of run offered tailored to which kind of community action members want to take. ‘Mission Runs’ aim to help older community members with one off tasks, ‘Coach Runs’ are regular and will see a member meeting an isolated older person and ‘Group Runs’ help with community projects.

The Portsmouth South representative added:

“I look forward to continuing to spend time with other community members and the GoodGym team, keeping fit and making a difference.

I hope to see more people joining the movement and encourage people to pick up their running shoes and litter picker and head on down to the next event.”

To join GoodGym and find out more about their events in Portsmouth, please visit: https://www.goodgym.org/areas/portsmouth

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City MP Stephen Morgan has launched a Christmas appeal in support of St Swithun’s homeless mission

Reliant on donations from the public, the Southsea church is running a project to help vulnerable people by providing hot meals, support and essential goods.

Following a visit to the project a few weeks ago, the re-elected Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Communities Minister has done a call out on social media requesting constituents donate men’s gloves, warm socks and razors with shaving foam to help the homeless in Portsmouth this Christmas.

Residents, local groups and businesses are encouraged to drop off these items only to the MP’s constituency office this Friday or Monday. Speaking at the appeal,

Stephen Morgan MP said

“An estimated 280,000 homeless people will be sleeping rough or living in temporary housing and hostels on Christmas Day.

According to Shelter, that’s about one in every 200 of the total population. Behind these statistics are real people and this crisis should shame us all.

As Portsmouth South’s MP, I will continue to press the new government to confront this huge challenge and do something radical to implement.

In Southsea, St Swithun’s tireless work has been going under the radar, with volunteers donating hundreds of hours helping those in need. I urge constituents to do their bit by giving a little and helping this appeal this Christmas”.

The office is open for donations Friday and Monday 9-5pm at 72 Albert Road, Southsea PO5 2SL

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Shadow Defence Secretary visits Portsmouth to help re-elect national voice on defence, Stephen Morgan

Stephen Morgan, who won Portsmouth South in the General Election of 2017 and is seeking re-election, was today visited by senior Shadow Cabinet Member, Nia Griffith in his home city. The visit came as a result of his consistently strong stance on defence.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary made the visit to discuss Mr Morgan’s relentless efforts to secure the dry docking facility in Portsmouth, to spend time with local veterans organisations.

The visit was organised ahead of the first entry of HMS Prince of Wales expected in Portsmouth Harbour on the 16 November. The two new carriers were commissioned by the last Labour Government and resulted from the decisions made by Labour Ministers.

The Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith said:

“Portsmouth people made the right decision in 2017. From tirelessly lobbying the previous Government to invest in Portsmouth by locating the dry dock facility within the city to being a voice for veterans in Parliament, Stephen has consistently fought his city’s corner.

His record of delivery has been outstanding. Portsmouth people need to back Stephen as the only candidate who can beat the Tories, who have made unprecedented cuts to our armed forces, so that he can continue to advocate on the city’s behalf.”

2017 winner and current candidate, Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth is the heart and home of the Royal Navy. Our great city being the base-port of the forthcoming HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth reaffirms that.

I want to ensure that this legacy is continued, that is why I want to continue to lobby hard and speak up for Portsmouth when it comes to the location of a dry docking facility worth over £1 bn to our local economy.

Today, for Portsmouth I made the case to Labour’s most senior defence figure as she joined me spending time with veterans, discussing our city’s naval future and meeting residents on the doorstep.”

The frontbench visit kicked off with Labour’s Defence Secretary spending time with Mr Morgan at the Historic Dockyard and discussed Mr Morgan’s efforts to secure the dry docking for the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which would generate over 100 jobs and £1bn locally.

On securing a dry docking facility, Mr Morgan said:

“I have met the relevant Minister, written countless letters to three different Defence Secretaries, submitted a string of written questions, grilled the Government during Defence Questions and met with the Naval Base Commander.

Since 2010, we have seen 5,000 Royal Navy jobs cut, 12 ships axed, 91 defence sites scheduled to be sold off and the lowest defence spending for 20 years. It is clear you cannot trust the Conservatives’ record when it comes to safeguarding our armed forces.

When I asked the previous Government to begin recording veteran suicide? They refused. When I asked for the dry dock to come to Portsmouth? They refused. When I asked the Government to extend the forces rail card to veterans? At that time they refused.

I will not stand idly by and allow Government to yet again neglect the needs of the city where I grew up. Portsmouth’s success is the Royal Navy’s success and the dry docking facility would secure jobs for the future”.

Mr Morgan also hosted a roundtable discussion with local veterans organisation All Call Signs, who provide support to ex-forces personnel, and Labour’s Defence Secretary to discuss Labour veterans pledge.

Stephen James from All Call Signs said:

“For some time we have been working alongside Stephen and others in a bid to get Government to record veteran suicide.

I have seen him host debates, write letters out to coroners, ask questions in Parliament and work hard to achieve this goal. I hope that he is able to continue this vital work for the veteran’s community and that we are able to continue our work together.”

Mr Morgan is no stranger to standing up for veterans, he has been calling for the HM Forces railcard to be extended to ex-service personnel, worked alongside The British Legion and others to ensure the success of D-Day 75 and worked in the Public Accounts Committee to probe into substandard military accommodation. For him to continue this vital work for Portsmouth, he must be re-elected on the 12 December.

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“Let’s work together to ensure today’s generation have the digital skills for the future” says City MP at launch of Google Digital Garage

Today, Google opened a training hub in Portsmouth South. Delivering a speech to local community and business leaders, the city MP helped declare the hub open.

The Google Digital Garage is a multi-million-pound initiative that helps people, small businesses, and charities in Britain learn crucial skills for the digital age and is supported by the council and other local agencies. The city MP has been lobbying for this to come to his city for well over year.

Google Digital Garage offers free workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions, enabling everyone to harness the power of the internet. Stephen Morgan has spent a great deal of time lobbying for its presence in Portsmouth.

Addressing attendees at the opening, Mr Morgan said:

“While businesses in Portsmouth are thriving and do justice to the ingenuity and resilience the city is famed for, the importance of developing digital prowess cannot be overestimated, we must continue to make our mark.

Digital technology has revolutionised the way we work – but many smaller businesses that lack digital skills are being left behind.

The fact that 55% of small business owners reported growth after just 14 weeks of receiving Google Hub training means that these issues will be tackled head on.”

The city MP stressed the importance of digital training in relation to social inequality. This is in line with the State of the Nation report which found that 49 percent of the poorest adults had received no digital training after leaving school, while 20 percent of the richest adults had. 

Mr Morgan said:

“Not only are digital skills essential to business progression, they are also a vital tool in the fight against inequality and help with self-liberation.

Through closing the digital divide, we will be able to make it easier for those at the bottom of the ladder to climb up.

We know that in Portsmouth, deprivation is higher than average at over 25% and 9,000 children live in poverty. Improving digital literacy is one tool we can use in the fight against deprivation and injustice.”

Since 2015, Google Garage has visited more than 500 locations across the UK and trained more than 400,000 people. Statistics show that 75% of small business owners changed the way they use digital marketing to advertise or sell online and 90% of learners took action after Google Digital Garage training. 43% said they had used more digital tools at work, and 77% said Google Digital Garage had helped improve their professional profile.

Mr Morgan said:

“The reason I have lobbied so hard for the Garage to come to my patch is because of the proven track record it has in up-skilling local communities and fostering an atmosphere of progression.

In my maiden speech, I said this is a city of makers and doers. With the likes of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Dickens emerging form this city, this is undeniable. I want to see this continue and believe that if we are to continue to leave our mark, ensuring equal access to digital skills for all will play a crucial role.”

Mr Morgan has not stopped at bringing the hub to his constituency, he is now in discussions with Google about a string of events at the hub and the touring of a Google Skills Bus around the constituency to reach marginalised communities.