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A time to say thanks: Portsmouth MP celebrates work of local volunteers

Stephen Morgan MP is joining local charities in thanking volunteers for their hard work in supporting people and communities across Portsmouth, as part of Volunteers’ Week 2021.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration – now in its 37th year – of the contribution and dedication of millions of volunteers who give up their time in the service of others.

The Portsmouth representative has worked with a wide range of charities supported by local volunteers throughout the lockdown, including HIVE Portsmouth, which has helped to provide food and other essentials for the most vulnerable in the local community, with some of its volunteers also helping to support the local vaccination effort.

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“Throughout this pandemic, volunteers in Portsmouth have played a crucial role in supporting those most in need.

“They have got on with the job at hand, a lot of the time without praise and expecting nothing in return, to help the most vulnerable in our society. They really are some of the best of us.

“This week, it is important we recognise their incredible dedication this Volunteers’ Week, and say, thank you!”

Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which supports the coordination of Volunteers’ Week, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is about recognising all of those who have delivered vital work as volunteers over the past 12 months. We should acknowledge the huge number of first-time volunteers in communities around the country, and also say thank you to all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of the pandemic.

“Volunteers are always working at the heart of every UK community. It is hard to overstate the incredible impact they have made during an incredibly challenging year.

“The pandemic has highlighted how much we need each other as a society. Charities and volunteering enable us to put that need into action and remain at the heart of our communities through the best and worst times. As a result of the incredible impact that volunteers have had during the pandemic, and continue to have in the recovery efforts, more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by the amazing volunteers across the UK.

“We must ensure this recognition continues. That is why, on this 37th annual Volunteers’ Week, it’s time to say: thank you volunteers!”

Mr Morgan worked alongside HIVE volunteers earlier this year in its work to support the local vaccination effort and wrote out to 50 supermarkets and local stores across Portsmouth, asking them to allow time for Hive volunteers to access priority goods for older people before shelves can be stripped, as well as allowing access to food and essentials at priority times to ensure that foodbank shelves do not become too depleted.

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City MP pays a visit to world-class attractions to encourage Pride in Portsmouth

To mark English Tourism Week (22 to 31 May), today Stephen Morgan MP visited several of Portsmouth’s world-class attractions, including the D-Day Story, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower, to highlight the importance of the city’s tourism sector and encourage people to join the Portsmouth Champions scheme.

The scheme is designed to ensure everyone working or volunteering in customer-facing roles across the city has the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm they need to promote everything Portsmouth has to offer.

With many people planning to holiday in the UK this year, the programme will enable those in the city’s tourism sector to welcome visitors full of information and passion for Portsmouth.

In preparation for reopening, many destinations have made sure they have the right coronavirus safety measures in place to meet Visit Britain’s national ‘We’re good to go’ standard for Covid-safe tourism.

Visit Portsmouth is also working hard to make sure the city’s tourism industry bounces back after the pandemic encouraging people outside the city to plan a summer trip to Portsmouth to enjoy the attractions, seafront, shopping and events.

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

It’s why I am really keen to support the Portsmouth Champions scheme and have launched my own ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign as a call to action for our community to celebrate and visit our local businesses, key cultural and sporting assets and shine a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our local economic recovery.”

The Portsmouth Champions training is completely free and can be undertaken by anyone – simply visit portsmouthchampions.co.uk to sign up.

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City MP pipes up on restrictions for choral singers

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged the Culture Secretary to provide clinical justification for the decision to limit amateur singing groups to just six people indoors.

Mr Morgan has written to Oliver Dowden following confusion around the restrictions on choral singing in the City and across the country.
Following the easing of restrictions on 17 May, government guidance was updated to clarify that only six amateur singers can meet indoors, while there is no limit on the number of professional singers.

In the letter, Mr Morgan calls out the “double standard” between amateur and professional singers and highlighted a number of much larger performing arts events, including the Brit Awards, that had been allowed to take place safely.

The letter concludes: “I urge you to publish the clinical evidence underpinning the decision to prevent amateur choral singing in groups of more than six people under covid-19 restrictions, and what plans you have to review this.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth choral singers are understandably keen to return to practice and performance at venues across the City, including our magnificent Cathedrals.

“But new guidelines have created a double standard which does not seem to be backed up by clinical evidence. It’s causing confusion and consternation for our singers.

“I have urged the Culture Secretary to provide the clinical evidence underpinning this decision and hope that larger groups of non-professional singers will be allowed to gather as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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City MP steps up efforts to bring back Southsea parkrun

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has this week taken action to ensure that Southsea parkrun can restart safely.

Responding to concerns raised by the volunteer-led organisation, as well as local residents, Mr Morgan wrote to Public Health Minister Jo Churchill earlier this week.

In the letter, Mr Morgan wrote of the huge ‘physical and mental health’ benefits parkrun provides and urged the government to clarify that it was able to take place once again in line with the roadmap and clinical evidence on Covid transmission.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has now confirmed that parkrun’s plans “follow all the guidelines set out by the government to keep people safe and there is no reason they can’t now take place.” He also urged local councils to do “whatever it takes” to get them back up and running.

Today Mr Morgan met the City Council’s Director of Culture to raise these concerns and find a way to ensure the much-loved community event returns. It is hoped that the event will go ahead on 5 June as planned using an alternative route close-by.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

 “I’ve seen first-hand the enormous physical and mental health benefits Southsea’s parkrun provides. People really need this as we emerge from the pandemic.

“The events follow all government and clinical guidance, so there should be no barriers to our local runners getting back out there.

“I will continue to work with Ministers and the council to get these events running again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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Portsmouth MP slams government as new research reveals thousands of local children living in poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government today after new analysis published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showed a sharp rise in child poverty in Britain in the last 5 years, with more than 400,000 more children living in poverty after housing costs than in 2015.

Child poverty was rising sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is feared to have exacerbated the situation even further.

Child poverty is also rising locally and there are now 7,154 children in Portsmouth South living in poverty, an increase of 7.7% from five years ago. A staggering 37.5% of all children in the constituency are living below the poverty line, after housing costs.

Researchers combined data on child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions in May with information about local housing costs to build a detailed picture of child poverty across the country.

Mr Morgan has also signed the new “No Child Left Behind” pledge launched today by the National Education Union which says:

“As a Member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in Portsmouth.

“I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty. 

“I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024. 

“We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“These figures are shocking and heart breaking. This Government has presided over a staggering increase in child poverty, and ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“Boris Johnson talks a good game about levelling up the country, but this Government’s shameful record is one of rising poverty, soaring food bank use and a widening attainment gap.

“I will keep standing up for children in Portsmouth and campaign for a Labour Government that will make tackling child poverty a top priority.

“That is why I am proud to sign the National Education Union’s pledge committing to do everything in my power to ensure no child is left behind.”

The Portsmouth MP criticised the government last year for failing for afford free school meals to children last year. For families in need of support, you can find range of local contacts for foodbanks and other organisations here.

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Pride in Portsmouth: Portsmouth MP launches local recovery campaign at Historic Dockyard

Stephen Morgan MP launches his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign following a visit to the city’s Historic Dockyard, aiming to shine a spotlight on our city’s fantastic cultural assets, ahead of restrictions set to ease on Monday.

The Portsmouth MP met the team behind the Mary Rose and the National Museum for the Royal Navy, two key cultural assets for the city, as they make their final preparations for their reopening next week.

Parts of the visit included a preview of the new £1million exhibition at the National Museum for the Royal Navy and improved visitor centre, where Mr Morgan was able to thank and pay tribute to the staff behind the scenes that have helped to put it together, after a particularly tough year for the cultural and arts sectors.

Tourism is crucial to the city, providing around £600 million in income each year and supporting around 13,000 jobs.

It comes as much of the city also prepares to reopen its doors to visitors and residents, marking the beginning of the recovery of Portsmouth’s economy, following an unprecedented year of challenges.

A survey of tourism businesses in South East England recently showed:

  • 36% estimated losing more than £100,000 revenue this year
  • 57% had furloughed staff and 5% made staff redundant
  • 15% under threat of closure and 44% unsure if they could continue.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, commented,

“It’s great be back at two of our top cultural gems of our city in the Mary Rose and Royal Navy Museums, seeing first-hand their brilliant exhibitions, as they prepare to fully reopen on Monday.

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

“That’s why today I am launching my ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign, a call to action for our community to show its pride in our city by visiting local businesses and supporting our key cultural and sporting assets and shining a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our city’s local economic recovery.”

Part of the campaign’s focus will also be to widen participation and access in Portsmouth’s cultural offer, ensuring all residents have a stake in their city’s history and its future.

Mr Morgan is set to meet and visit a range of local groups, businesses, and cultural centres in the weeks ahead, to offer his support for the local economic recovery.

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Give us our bobbies back

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the Home Secretary to fund our police service fairly and give us back the bobbies Tory governments have taken from our city.

A decade of cuts means Hampshire has lost more than 1,000 police officers since 2010, and we remain 400 short despite recent increases.

Police workforce figures show our constabulary has just 135 officers per 100,000 people, the lowest of any force in the country.

This year’s police funding settlement confirms a £21.9m real-terms cut in funding for Hampshire Constabulary over the past decade.

Ministers are heaping the burden onto local taxpayers by raising the council tax precept, instead of funding our safety directly.

These cuts have real consequences for our city, and our safety. Crime has risen 15% since 2016, with home burglaries and weapon possessions nearly doubling.

Hampshire’s Chief Constable recently confirmed that underfunding means police responses have to be rationed.

If, like Stephen, you want safer streets and more bobbies back on the beat, sign his pledge:

Thank you for signing our pledge. Stephen Morgan MP and the Labour Party will use the personal information you provide for the purpose of the ‘Give us our bobbies back’ campaign. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/privacy-policy

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City MP presents Portsmouth’s NHS Parliamentary Award nominees with their certificates

Stephen Morgan MP has met with Portsmouth’s three nominees for the NHS Parliamentary Awards to offer his congratulations and thank them for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

Last year Members of Parliament were invited to nominate individuals or an organisation for an NHS Parliamentary Award. The Portsmouth South MP nominated three individuals who went above and beyond to support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the online event, there was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the staff, who are based at Queen Alexandra Hospital, as well as allowing an opportunity for the nominees to talk to the city MP about their experiences on the frontline.

All three nominees were from the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust with The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award nomination going to Clinical Director of Respiratory Medicine Dr Ben Green; The Wellbeing at Work Award nomination going to Respiratory High Care Ward Manager Katrina James; and the Excellence in Healthcare Award nomination going to Consultant Respiratory Physician, Tom Brown.

Chief Nurse Liz Rix also joined the online call to share the impact of the three nominees’ work at QA with Mr Morgan, including Dr Green’s work in driving preparedness plans in the respiratory department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Katrina James, who identified the need for a formal end of life process for patients coming off non-invasive ventilation and was praised for her incredible compassion for her patients, their loved ones and her colleagues; and Tom Brown, who became the Trust lead on research trials, reshaped the research team and embedded it as part of routine clinical care.

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“All our NHS staff, volunteers and society’s carers deserve recognition, but Ben, Katrina and Tom have gone above and beyond the call of duty and their work has had an enormous impact on so many people here in Portsmouth as well as further afield.

“Hearing the tributes they made to their teams and their accounts of the dedication of the staff at QA hospital was inspirational.

“We owe these members of our community a debt of gratitude and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done.”

The city MP separately wrote a formal letter of thanks to each of the nominees. The hope is that next year’s awards will be able to be presented in person.

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“We can, and we will, build a better future for Portsmouth”

The last year, so hard for so many, has changed us all. It’s changed Portsmouth. By staying apart, we have come together like never before.

So many of you have told me we can’t come through the collective trauma of Covid-19 and go back to the same arguments and the old ways of doing things.

Tories and Lib Dems continue to fight each other, while our NHS loses out on funding. Our children miss out on a world-class education, and our city watches on as jobs go and our community is neglected by Government.

We’ve got to create a better future for the country we love, and we need to do that now.

As I continue to represent you and our city in Parliament, I am determined to ensure Portsmouth recovers from the pandemic faster and fairer. I will work day and night to bring that change, so we can build the city we all need.

But the work of Labour councillors is vital to delivering local services we all rely on and standing up for the causes you care about. By working electing a bigger Labour team on the city council today we can achieve so much more.

Working together, you local Labour councillors have been pushing to tackle the climate emergency that the Labour Group pushed for the city to declare. Labour councillors have strongly argued to stop AQUIND and the untold disruption it would cause to our city, and are calling for a proper green  recovery for Portsmouth through local initiatives like ‘Living Streets’.

In the last few weeks you will have heard from your local Labour team, and your candidate for the important elections to the city council today.

Instead of focusing on the divisions and disagreements of the past, Portsmouth Labour is making the case for a Covid recovery council, with a restart plan for every community, in every corner of our city, at its heart. Never again should we see services stripped back to their bones and communities suffering as a result.

It’s really important you vote for your local Labour candidate, so that they can deliver a catch up plan for our children, because we won’t let a generation of young people go forgotten. And we will set out our vision for jobs for now and for the future, supporting good local businesses to create good jobs.

The task ahead is tough, but together with a bigger Labour team on the city council there is nothing we cannot achieve.

We can, and we will, build a better future for Portsmouth. Please help us all to achieve that by voting for your Labour candidate today.

Stay safe and well.

Stephen Morgan MP

PS to find out about your local candidate visit www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/labour-team/

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COVID impact: Portsmouth MP visits local organisation MAKE that supports adults with learning disabilities

Stephen Morgan MP visited local support group MAKE today following the acute impact the pandemic has had on vulnerable people living in Portsmouth.

Based in Fratton, MAKE is a social enterprise supported by Aldingbourne Trust, providing innovative projects to support adults with learning disabilities to develop skills to enable them to lead independent lives and gain employment within the community.

However, many of those who rely on the local services MAKE provides felt ‘isolated’ during the third lockdown, a feeling shared by many during a discussion included in the Portsmouth MP’s visit, focusing on the impact the pandemic has had on MAKE and those who use its services.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the inequalities disabled people face in England, with national data showing disabled people and those with health conditions accounting for 59% of all deaths relating to coronavirus.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

MAKE is a fantastic organisation that is doing brilliant work to support some of the most vulnerable in our community who have also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 over this past year.

“It’s brilliant to see that these facilities have now reopened for service users, but it’s vital services like these stay open and remain supported as we slowly unlock from this third lockdown.”

Mr Morgan previously visited MAKE last August after the first lockdown and has put questions to the Health Secretary on when government will set out a clear plan on how and when vulnerable groups will be vaccinated, along with others who are currently left out of the priority groups.