It was fantastic to visit Sifa Fireside, which supports people in the journey from homeless into housing and work. It was great to see the facilities at the centre in Digbeth and learn more about the essential services Sifa Fireside provides. Sifa has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and is really coming into its own after a difficult 18 months during the pandemic. They are an organisation with a mission who know exactly how to improve the lives of the people they exist to serve. I was incredibly impressed with the work of the team, led by CEO Carly Jones, and hope to work more closely with them on housing and planning issues in the future.
I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone to get their booster vaccines as soon as they are eligible. It’s never been easier to top up your immunity – if it has been three months since your second vaccine dose and you are eligible for a booster jab, you will be called forward by the NHS when it’s your turn. For those who are eligible but haven’t yet taken up the offer – it’s never too late to come forward and book. With the new Omicron variant now identified in the UK, vaccines are our first and best line of defence and therefore so important for keeping everyone safe this winter.
I met with Sara-Jane Marsh, the Chief Executive of Birmingham Women and Children’s hospital to discuss their work in the constituency. Birmingham Women’s and Children’s calls my constituency its home, but provides services for those across the region. It was great to catch up with Sarah-Jane and her team to talk about their plans for the future.
I was delighted that Labour secured a strong 10.3% from the Conservatives in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election, following the death of incumbent Conservative MP, James Brokenshire. Labour Candidate, Dan Francis slashed the Tories’ majority as voters are switching to Labour. I was out on the doorstep campaigning with Dan and our fantastic team on the ground and in many places people would tell me they were fed up of this Government and felt taken for granted. I had many conversations with voters about the Government’s broken promises and poor track record on things they really care about like tax hikes and social care reform.
I had a brilliant time meeting the team at Betel UK at their Rising Arts Café. The charity runs a community outreach and skills-training centre right here in Birmingham. Betel UK provides those recovering from homelessness and addiction the chance to train and reskill in their centre. Not only does their Anchor Point facility provide a restorative workplace, but it helps people who are in the process of rebuilding their lives. I was touched by the stories of those I met today who have conquered addictions thanks to the help of the charity and was so grateful to have listened to their journey.
Finally, I would like to wish all those celebrating a very Happy Chanukah!