View from Westminster: Out of lockdown and plenty to do

News Desk (18 August, 2021)

'I am hugely proud to represent such a strong, community-spirited area'

44883Neil Coyle, Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP

It has been amazing to get back out and about in the community, doing door to door mobile advice sessions and attending some fantastic events over the last few weeks after the lost, lockdown year, writes Neil Coyle…

I joined the Mason Foundation’s first ever ‘Family Mile Summer Extravaganza’ in Burgess Park. It was a great event, and my five-year-old daughter Esme enjoyed the unicorn face painting! The charity aims to support families, to get more active and healthier, together. To register for activities please visit: https://tinyurl.com/swk-fam-mile

It was also brilliant to attend the Living Bankside ‘Great Get Together’ in Flat Iron Square. ‘Get Togethers’ take place all over the country in memory of my murdered friend and colleague Jo Cox, inspired by her words “We have more in common than that which divides us”. It was cancelled last year, but was as positive as ever this summer with Jo’s sister Kim Leadbeater attending as the new MP for Batley and Spen.

I pitched my red gazebo up at the Rotherhithe Festival to run an outdoor advice surgery right amongst the fun, music and occasional downpour. It was also great to put a shift in for the Mayor of Southwark’s Common Good Trust on their charity stall. The festival is always positive and it was brilliant to catch up with so many other wonderful local organisations like Time and Talents, the Southwark Pensioners’ Centre, and the new Rotherhithe Roosters boxing club.

The festival is just one of the summer events backed by Southwark Council, including a brilliant, free programme for children in partnership with great local organisations. You can find more information and sign up your children or grandchildren online at: https://tinyurl.com/sumhol21

On Walworth’s Brandon Estate I was pleased to help local children access a football academy over the summer by linking the tenants’ associations with a generous donor to ensure the professional Unity team are able to provide free coaching. England hero Jadon Sancho came from the same area, so I hope the scheme helps train a future star!

I am hugely proud to represent such a strong, community-spirited area. It stands in contrast to the government’s latest grubby shenanigans. Ministers are cutting £1.2 million from Southwark schools, freezing police pay, cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week, and giving nurses a clap for the cameras but a real-terms pay cut. Yet they found £250 million for a ministerial yacht and £100,000 for art to adorn Downing Street’s recently redecorated walls. If only the government shared Southwark’s principles; the whole country would be better off!

When the UK helped topple the Taliban and the extremists they shielded as part of an international operation, the whole world celebrated. With the Taliban back in charge today the world shudders and awaits their latest atrocities against women in Afghanistan and attacks beyond their borders. That our prime minister and foreign secretary were on holiday as events unfolded and ignored warnings is unforgivable given the risks to UK personnel and our allies who’ve sacrificed everything in the hope of a stable, democratic country which has now been demolished so abruptly. The Tories’ talk about ‘Global Britain’ but that has been shown for the empty slogan it truly is, with cuts to our army and international aid. Our reach and partnerships seem to be shrinking before our eyes and, after already being contacted by three local people, I’m fearful for anyone whose family members are trapped in this chaos.

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