View from Westminster: Warm words are no use if you are struggling to pay your rent

News Desk (06 May, 2020)

Every keyworker needs to be paid a wage that fully reflects how much we value the essential work that they do

36601Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood

I’d like to start this column by again thanking all of the key workers who continue to do an exceptional job during the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Helen Hayes…

Working so hard, and in such difficult circumstances would be challenging for a short period of time, but after so many weeks it is utterly gruelling.

When we are out on our doorsteps every Thursday clapping for the carers we are thinking of every one of you. Thank you on behalf of everyone in Dulwich and West Norwood constituency, we are so grateful for all that you are doing.

In my constituency staff at King’s College Hospital have been going above and beyond the call of duty to care for patients with coronavirus and the many other patients who need medical assistance at this time. Operating theatres have been repurposed to provide extra intensive care beds, staff have been redeployed from their normal roles and so many people have worked extra hours to provide the very best care that they can.

Care workers too have had to adapt so that both staff and residents can stay as safe as possible, working to keep residents in touch with their relatives by phones or laptops now that visiting in person isn’t possible, and they have often experienced particularly difficult challenges accessing PPE and other resources.

The weekly Clap for Key Workers at 8pm on Thursdays is a moving and important moment to come together with our neighbours and express our gratitude, but every key worker deserves much more than our thanks. They must be given the vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that they need. The right equipment every time, for every keyworker – no ifs, no buts and no excuses from the government. No health or social care worker should have to work without the right PPE, and nor should they have to work with the anxiety that supplies are running low.

Key workers also need easy access to testing for both themselves and for every person they care for. There have been big problems with the availability of testing, with tests only available in locations which are accessible by car, leading to a situation in a home where one of my constituents works where only one frontline carer in the whole home had been able to get themselves tested.

Finally every keyworker needs to be paid a wage that fully reflects how much we value the essential work that they do.

Warm words are no use if you are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table.

All key workers need a proper living wage, not just the hollow opportunity to purchase a badge. When we are through this difficult time, there can be no return to business as usual.

Coronavirus has shown us clearly and often tragically what we value the most, and we must make sure that these become our priorities for the future.

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