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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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City MP backs The News’ and Age UK Portsmouth’s ‘Christmas Calls’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has joined The News and Age UK Portsmouth ‘Christmas Calls’ campaign to combat loneliness for elderly people in the city this festive season.

The campaign is seeking to as many local residents as possible to sign up to the scheme, which aims to pair up each participant up with someone from the Portsmouth area who is facing Christmas Day and the festive season alone.

Participants will then call residents facing Christmas alone this year on Christmas Day, to have a friendly chat with them with the aim to bring some happiness to their day. 

Participants are encouraged to carry on with the befriending service after Christmas as the coronavirus pandemic sets to impact interactions in 2021, but there is no requirement on this.

Registration requires a DBS check which is £5 and the deadline for registrations is Wednesday, November 25. If residents are unable to pay the £5 they can still register and if people can’t donate their time, there will be a Just Giving link to donate money to help the charity pay for other people’s DBS checks.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“As a former trustee at Age UK Portsmouth I know how valuable their work is for communities across our city.

Loneliness amongst some of the most vulnerable is always a concern, particularly at Christmas. The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that this year more people are set to become even more isolated due to shielding and Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is why I am proud to support The News and Age UK Portsmouth’s fantastic campaign to combat loneliness within our community during this winter period. I hope many will continue to stay part of the scheme beyond this period too.”

To get involved in Christmas Calls campaign visit https://www.ageuk.org.uk/portsmouth/about-us/contact-us/ by Wednesday, November 25.

 

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Portsmouth MP urges government to fix ‘broken’ pension credit scheme for over-75s TV licences

Stephen Morgan MP has outlined fresh concerns over the 3.7 million pensioners that are now required to start paying for TV licences, after the government’s delay to removing the concession for all over-75s expired on 1st August 2020.

In 2019 it was announced the universal free TV licence would be scrapped, except for over-75’s in receipt of Pension Credit from 1st June 2020.

This comes as many pensioners are reportedly either unaware or unable to access their pension credit, or fall just outside the requirements to qualify for the scheme, but are by no means living comfortably.

According to national charity Turn2us, an estimated 1,716 pensioners in the city of Portsmouth are not claiming their pension credit – which entitles them to a free TV licence.

Stephen Morgan MP commented,

“The government’s decision to force a political decision upon a BBC that is already receiving serious cuts to funding is completely unacceptable.

“But to then set up a pension credit scheme that is bureaucratic, ill-communicated and that still leaves many pensioners exempt from the scheme that are nowhere near living comfortably is just incredibly poor governance and lacking in vision.”

In addition, during lockdown and beyond, the importance of access to amenities for pensioners has been underscored.

According to Age UK, over 950,000 people aged 70+ in England (12% or one in eight) were shielding from the virus. Meanwhile, 38% of over-75s (2.1 million people) agreed that television was their main form of company, and 40% of over-75s (2.2 million people) live alone.

Mr Morgan added,

“During lockdown, now and in the months to come, TV will be incredibly important to help reduce loneliness for pensioners and to also ensure they remain updated on latest developments – particularly on Covid-19.

“The government needs to revisit this scheme urgently as weenter the winter period and I will be taking further action in Parliament to challenge them on this important issue.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South is set to table a range of parliamentary questions and look to arrange a cross-party Westminster Hall debate to challenge on the government’s TV licence policy, on behalf of pensioners in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan has previously written to two Culture Secretaries lobbying for government on this issue, spoken out in favour of keeping the benefit during parliamentary debates; grilled Ministers in the House of Commons during relevant questions; submitted a string of targeted written questions to the department responsible; and written a joint letter with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to the Prime Minister.

The government’s pension credit team can be reached on 0800 99 1234.

 

 

 

 

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Decision to axe free TV licence for over 75s ‘stripping away vital lifeline amid pandemic’ says city MP

After a two-month delay due to Covid-19, plans to scrap the universally free TV licence for the over-75s are once again underway. The decision to scrap the vital benefit for older people was first made in 2015 when the Conservative Government forced the responsibility onto the BBC.

Since then, Stephen Morgan MP has consistently been vocal in his opposition to government snatching away this popular benefit, working alongside the Portsmouth Pensioners and Age UK as well as hundreds of constituents. The move announced today has angered many especially as the Tories stood on a 2017 election manifesto pledge not to roll back benefits for older people.

The Portsmouth South MP has undertaken a series of actions lobbying for Portsmouth pensioners including seeking the views of all constituents affected; writing to two Culture Secretaries lobbying for government to revoke the decision; speaking out in favour of keeping the benefit during parliamentary debates; grilling Ministers in the House of Commons during relevant questions; submitting a string of targeted written questions to the department responsible; and writing a joint letter with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to the Prime Minister.

On today’s announcement, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Government has not only snatched away this vital lifeline for some older people, it has then cowered away from ownership of the decision and tried to shift blame onto the BBC.

That means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee. I know from speaking to hundreds of local residents that for some that will mean choosing between loneliness and hunger.

Of those set to lose out we know that 900,000 are veterans who have served this country, 500,000 suffer from Alzheimer’s and 1.3 million are eligible for pension credit but unable to claim it. This means those losing out are truly the most vulnerable in our society.

Today’s announcement is hugely disappointing for thousands of Portsmouth’s pensioners who have contributed so much to society. This is a simple benefit giving back to those who have contributed a lot”.

Free TV licences for the over-75s had been provided by the Government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of a fee settlement.

The cost of continuing to provide free licences to all over-75s could have reached £1bn a year over time with an ageing population and would have accounted for one fifth of their overall budget, meaning government left the BBC no choice.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens MP said:

“The refusal of the government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal.

Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic. For the government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”

 

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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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Portsmouth MP teams up with Google to urge pensioners to protect themselves online

Stephen Morgan, Shadow Communities Minister, has been working with Google through their Digital Garage initiative to raise awareness of online safety and protect city pensioners when using the internet.

Teaming up with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association and Google team, the Portsmouth MP arranged a free and open to all training session for local pensioners to hear from experts and find out about 121support at Google’s training hub, the Digital Garage, at 105a Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

The garage opened late last year to provide free workshops for everyone. The latest action by the city MP, follows a range of activities since Mr Morgan helped secure the city centre facility for community use by Portsmouth residents.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We all have something we want to do, but haven’t yet. Whether a lack of time, opportunity or support, Google Digital Garage is here to help Portsmouth people take the first steps.

 

After listening to constituents’ concerns, I have wanted Google to prioritise making sure older people feel safe online. I am delighted the Portsmouth Pensioners Association and Google Garage team have come together to help city pensioners and it was a pleasure to play my part”.

 

On the importance of online security the Shadow Communities Minister added:

 

“Email and online shopping can make our lives a lot easier, but they also create new opportunities for fraud.

 

Online scams are becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, so I encourage all older people to seek help and find out how to keep safe.

 

I appreciate all those organisations and charities which are doing their bit to help people use the internet safely”.

Google’s workshops are free and for everyone. From growing your career with new skills to growing your business with digital tools (or starting a business altogether), the team of coaches is there to help.

 

Any Portsmouth resident can pop in or book a free online course from the Portsmouth Garage. To find out more visit: g.co/PortsmouthGarage

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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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“Social Isolation and loneliness don’t stop when the Christmas tree comes down” says Stephen Morgan MP

As many headlines warn, Christmas can see loneliness and social isolation heightened, especially amongst older community members. However, newly re-elected MP Stephen Morgan has spoken out saying society must do better year-round to tackle the issue.

Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While I welcome the recognition that social isolation and loneliness receives over Christmas, I believe we cannot afford to let the issue fall when the festive season finishes.

Loneliness doesn’t stop when the Christmas tree comes down, there is work to be done. Since being elected in 2017, I have had the opportunity to work with organisations such as Age UK, The Good Company and The British Legion in tackling these social problems.

I am committed to continuing this vital work now that I have been re-elected to parliament and look forward to continued cooperation with organisations both in Portsmouth and in Parliament.”

The Jo Cox Commission started a national conversation on loneliness and successfully encouraged the Government to accept many of its recommendations with the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness to take forward the work.

However, the Government has failed to implement some of the policies and has gone against previous commitments to safeguard benefits that help to combat loneliness.

Stephen Morgan said:

“Through work with Age UK and Portsmouth pensioners, I know how important certain benefits are in combatting isolation and loneliness.

That is why It is an outrage that this Government is overseeing the scrapping of free TV licences for 3 million older people, leaving a Tory manifesto promise in tatters.

We know that around 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not or cannot claim for the benefit. This means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing an ominous new annual bill they simply can’t afford.”

The extensive work Mr Morgan has done for to combat isolation and loneliness is not limited to action on the free TV licence. He has worked hard on increasing bus routes, called for a veteran’s railcard, regular meets with Age UK and has a close relationship Portsmouth Pensioners to ensure they have a voice in parliament.