It was an interesting return to Parliament this week, as social distancing measures meant MPs asked questions via video call for the first time ever. I was delighted to see our Welsh Labour MPs holding the UK Government to account during the first Wales Questions of the session, with my good friend Nia Griffith, the new Shadow Welsh Secretary, calling on the UK Government to support businesses by ensuring that they underwrite 100% of the business interruption loans. Wales has so many SMEs and they need that support to weather this difficult period and come out the other side strong enough to pick up from where they left off.
New Labour Leader Keir Starmer did a fantastic job in his first PMQs opposite the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was standing in for the recuperating Prime Minister. Keir took the Government to task on their failings to deliver adequate supplies of PPE to our NHS and care workers, and for ignoring the many companies up and down the country that are ready and willing to turn their production lines to producing the much-needed PPE.
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all, but it must be so difficult for children who perhaps do not understand why they can’t go out with their friends or why their parents are now helping them with their schoolwork. For older children who do understand, it’s so important that they are not panicked and that we look after their mental health during this difficult time. Children and young people will most likely be spending more time on the computer and online as they keep in contact with friends and family and do their schoolwork at the minute. It’s important for them – and their parents – to be aware of online safety. Thinkuknow have some useful advice and guidance for parents to navigate this difficult topic.
It’s not just the youngsters for whom the internet can be a useful tool to stay connected – it can be used for older adults as well to ensure that they are not completely isolated and that they are able to keep in contact with family and friends. There is a new page on Facebook, Together we are stronger: Coronavirus information and discussion, with support specifically aimed at older people. You’ll find information about groups helping older people in their communities, step-by-step guides for installing applications such as Skype and WhatsApp, and links to Government advice.
Ramadan began this week, and I know the celebration of this special period will look somewhat different to usual. Although there will be no religious services or buildings open, it’s great to see how innovative people are in ensuring that communities can still come together and maintain their connection with God and with one another.
I’m so pleased this week that Unison officer – and my good friend – Mark Fisher has recovered from coronavirus after being rushed to Morriston Hospital, spending four days on a coronavirus ward. His account of an ambulance worker coming to his aid with limited PPE and the strength of his symptoms are chilling. He asks people not to underestimate the seriousness of this illness or the importance of social distancing to protect those who would struggle to fight the illness. You can read his account here. It’s particularly important to remember this now that the weather is finally getting better. Despite the sunshine and blue skies, we must continue to stick to the social distancing guidelines so that we continue to slow the spread of the virus and support the work of our fantastic NHS.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend and, remember – stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.