There’s been an awful lot happening for the constituency this week, but I started down in Westminster with a meeting with the National Autism Society to discuss misdiagnosis in mental health care. Mental health is still widely misunderstood by the general population with myths and stigma hampering open discussion, but worryingly, there is still misdiagnosis at the care level. Mental illness can be more common for people who are on the autism spectrum, but the mental health of autistic people is often overlooked. To complicate things further, the way an autistic person behaves can sometimes be mistaken for a sign of mental illness where none exists. There is still a lot of work to do on mental health and we have to ensure that everyone in our society is supported through mental illness and those in our society who need a little more help.
I’m proud to be part of Labour Together’s Commission which is looking into the results of the General Election and Labour’s defeat and looking at where we go from here. It’s so important that we listen to voters and voters who felt they couldn’t vote for Labour this time in order to move forward and ensure that next time, we are a party that people want to support and are excited for the future that we present.
On Wednesday, I was on the Sky News Panel before and after Prime Minister’s Questions. Climate change led the agenda, with Boris Johnson pressed over climate change and his decision to sack Claire O’Neil as CoP President. Climate change is probably the most significant issue facing the world at large, from food provision to bush fires in Australia to the hurricanes and floods we’re seeing across the world. Prime Minister’s Questions is growing in importance now, as we see the Prime Minister and his Government attempting to avoid criticism by denying interviews with journalists and trying to limit access for certain outlets which may be more critical of his actions than others. The Government must be open to scrutiny; it is a crucial part of democracy and the transparency and rigorous debate involved ensures that Ministers are accountable for the decisions that they make.
A number of constituents have raised the issue of Paragon Hotel with us recently. Paragon Hotel is being used as temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers, 400 at its peak. There have been a number of issues raised around a rise in anti-social behaviour in the area, pressure on local services, and appropriate support for the asylum seekers being housed there. I met with Birmingham County Council’s Councillor John Cotton to discuss these concerns and to ask what the plan for the future is, particularly regarding the transfer or residents to more suitable, long-term residences and how the hotel is monitored to ensure it does not negatively impact on local residents.
It was a pleasure to meet Guy Rippon, the Head of Community and Partnerships at Aston Villa, today to talk about what work they are doing with young people in Birmingham Ladywood. It’s great to hear about the apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities that are offered in conjunction with The Royal Foundation, Zurich Community Trust, and BMet College. Our young people deserve the best opportunities and apprenticeships are a really valuable way to earn money while training and to gain the industry experience they need. They are also working with the West Midlands Police on their Premier League Kicks programme – breaking down barriers between youngsters from different backgrounds and between them and the police. Sport can be such a powerful motivator and stress-buster enabling young people to focus on something positive, to channel their frustrations, and to build their self-confidence which are all important tools in tackling youth crime and anti-social behaviour. You can find out more about Aston Villa Foundation’s work with young people in our area here.