Carers week, the return of sport, and expressing solidarity with Black Lives Matter - Weekly update 12/06/2020
This week is Carers’ Week and new figures released show that 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is on top of the already 9.1 million unpaid carers who were already caring before the outbreak. In Wales, the Welsh Government acknowledged the importance of the role of unpaid carers in 2014 with their Social Services and Wellbeing Act which gave carers an equal right to have their needs assessed as those they care for. This is incredibly important as the majority of carers report poor mental health as a result of the impact of caring in their day-to-day lives. 78% reported not being able to take time away from caring, and even though they’re caring for someone they love and cherish, time away for themselves is incredibly important to reset and focus on themselves. 77% reported experiencing stress, 72% reported financial consequences, and 70% reported it having a challenging impact on their other interpersonal relationships. I’m pleased that the Welsh Government are establishing a Task and Finish Group of carers’ representatives to consider current levels of support and future actions in order to help unpaid carers access support that they need.2
On Tuesday at 11am, Parliament paused and many of us knelt in Old Palace Yard to remember George Floyd and to reconfirm our commitment to fighting racism in all its forms wherever it’s found. It is now 2020 and the fact that racism is still alive and kicking in our society, even here in the UK, is sickening. We all have to do more to stamp it out. We must listen to those who experience racism on a daily basis, we must assess how our own actions can be more anti-racist, and we must be more willing to engage with those who are trying valiantly to make our society truly value merit, achievement, and kindness. I will continue doing all I can to support anti-racism in every aspect of life.
This week, the Welsh Government announced that in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, they are recommending, but not making mandatory, the wearing of three-layer face coverings in situations (such as on public transport) where social distancing is not possible. However, the evidence remains clear that the best way to protect yourself and others against contracting the virus is to maintain 2-metre social distancing and to practise good hygiene with frequent hand washing, so it's important we don’t allow the use of masks to lull us into a false sense of security and get sloppy about other aspects of protection!
I was able to take part in the Welsh Affairs Committee this week and put a series of questions to the participants. The Welsh Government has provided bespoke sectoral support to those industries hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and it is vitally important that the UK Government takes note of this and equally supports the creative industry in the UK as a whole. I’m not sure we fully appreciate the economic importance of this sector to our economy. The creative industries broke the £100 billion barrier in 2018, worth a whopping £130 billion. But we’ve also seen a growing awareness of the importance of cultural institutions to our mental and community health. I don’t think any of us could imagine lockdown without the television and radio programmes, the theatre streams to our homes, and the books that have provided us with entertainment and a break from the scary reality of the pandemic. Local radio stations have also provided those confined to their homes with the information and support that they needed to help them through this crisis and provided an important lifeline to the outside world. We must protect these industries and the employment they provide and encourage the UK Government to do the same.
As a former women’s rugby international, I am also concerned that while the Government is talking about being able to bring back sporting fixtures, this is seemingly only really targeted at men’s sport. It's important that there is sufficient support in place for other groups - including women’s and disability sports, to prepare for the time when they too can recommence training and playing. Sport brings £9.8 billion to the economy, and this health crisis has shown us how important it is that everyone has access to the means and ways of keeping fit and being able to enjoy themselves in a game of sport with others. We cannot let the progress we have recently made to increase diversity and inclusion in sport be lost to the pandemic.
On a personal note, Monday marked an important milestone for me with the third anniversary of my election as Gower’s MP. It’s been a busy three years, with the Brexit negotiations, a second snap General Election, and now the unprecedented effects of Coronavirus, but I remain incredibly proud to represent this wonderful corner of the world in Parliament and am determined to continue fighting on your behalf for the issues that matter to us. I have so enjoyed getting to know so many of my brilliant constituents over the past three years and I am so grateful for all the support you have shown me.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Stay home, keep well, and remember – keep washing your hands!