From Gareth Thomas MP <[email protected]>
Subject My Covid-19 Update
Date May 31, 2020 9:15 AM
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I’m writing to update you on the response to the Coronavirus or
COVID-19 pandemic in
Harrow. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

[COVID Update]


Below is my latest update on the response to the Coronavirus or
COVID-19 pandemic locally. 

Over the past two weeks, Harrow has seen a continued decline in
confirmed cases of coronavirus, we now appear to have passed the peak
of the first wave of covid-19 transmission, infection, hospitalisation
and deaths. Positive signs, but there is still further to go. From
Monday, the Government has announced up to 6 people will be allowed to
meet outside as long as they are 2 metres apart, in addition, people
can meet in private gardens and public spaces. I appreciate and often
hear concerns that the Government’s messaging and plans regarding
the easing of the lockdown has at times felt inconsistent and I
understand that as we experience good weather, many will be keen to
enjoy visiting our local parks. However, I would like to urge readers
to please avoid complacency and further ask that you continue to
follow government guidance on social distancing as, in line with
Public Health England’s guidance, a second wave of the virus is
highly likely. 

My thoughts continue to be with the loved ones of those who have sadly
died, and with those who have contracted the virus. I can only begin
to imagine the sense of fear and loss the families must be
feeling.  As a community, we are immensely grateful to all of our
NHS staff, social care workers and all of our key workers, who are
working tirelessly to help us deal with this crisis. I hope readers
continue to stay safe, stay indoors and regularly check in on loved

I continue to update my website
[[link removed]] – covering where to
find support, keep safe and assist local people in Harrow. If you have
anything you would like to me to feature in this update please send me
an e-mail with the subject “Covid-19 newsletter” and be sure to
share this message with friends, family, neighbours and local
businesses in order to strengthen our collective response to COVID-19.
The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally
working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice
is available here
[[link removed]]
. Government assistance specifically for businesses is available
here [[link removed]] . 

As always, if you ever need to get in touch about the issues covered
here – or anything else – please contact my office on 0207 219
4243 or e-mail me at [email protected]. Please bear
with us, as we have received over 5 times our usual weekly amount of
correspondence. My team and I are working hard to respond as promptly
as possible. Although we have had to cancel face to face surgery
appointments, we are now scheduling regular Zoom surgeries and phone
calls with Harrow West constituents. 

[thank you key workers]



Parliament has been in recess this past week but, as with every
recess, the work does not stop. I continue to run Zoom surgeries for
urgent cases, please contact my office if you would like to book an
appointment. There isn’t always space in this newsletter to feature
my response to ongoing political developments, so be sure to get in
contact if there is any particular political concern not mentioned
that you would like to raise with me.


Parliament has been in recess this past week but, as with every
recess, the work does not stop. I continue to run Zoom surgeries for
urgent cases, please contact my office if you would like to book an
appointment. There isn’t always space in this newsletter to feature
my response to ongoing political developments, so be sure to get in
contact if there is any particular political concern not mentioned
that you would like to raise with me.

It has been a long time since a political event has garnered as much
public response as it has over the past week in lockdown. I share much
of your dismay about the serious allegations about Dominic Cummings.
It is of great concern that whilst Harrow residents and the wider
public have stayed at home, behaved responsibly and committed to
social distancing measures; someone involved in setting the rules, has
clearly not been following them.

In my opinion, Dominic Cummings position is untenable, and I am
shocked that he has not had the decency to resign, or even show some
contrition for his actions. This situation also has significant
implications for Boris Johnson’s leadership and ultimately his
premiership. The attempts from the Prime Minister to defend the
indefensible actions of his most senior adviser are quickly descending
into chaos and seriously undermining trust. 

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition has been clear that he would
have sacked Mr Cummings and has been unequivocal in his condemnation
of Mr Cumming’s conduct.
[[link removed]]

He has also called for an investigation into what happened, and as
such, the Labour Party has formally written to the Cabinet Secretary
Sir Mark Sedwill. It is regrettable that this week the Prime Minister
would not agree to such an investigation or inquiry. In addition, my
party have also written to the Home Secretary to raise serious
questions about the implications for policing, following the Prime
Minister’s statement earlier this week. 

Coronavirus has posed a unique challenge for this country, and now
more than ever the country needs to see strong leadership from the
Government. The public was looking for an honest explanation and an
apology. What we got last Sunday were weak excuses and no regrets. 


My most recent vote in parliament was in opposition to the Second
Reading of the Trade Bill. As I mentioned in my last e-mail, earlier
this month MPs voted on the ‘AGRICULTURE BILL’, for which the
Government victory is now likely to mean a lowering in tariffs that
will push British farms, with high welfare standards, to compete with
lower-standard US factory farms. The same themes return in the
‘TRADE BILL’ – which, as a Shadow International Trade Minister,
I will continue to spend a lot of time on, as the Bill now moves into
“Committee” stage”. 

The Trade Bill might not sound so exciting, but it will have many
implications for the future standard of trade in our country. For over
45 years, the UK’s international trade policy has been determined
through its relationship with the EU. During this period, the UK has
benefited from frictionless trade within the EU’s single market and
been protected by strong shared policies on trade with countries
outside the EU and EEA. The EU agreements, which the UK has traded
under, protect the NHS, safeguard the UK’s right to regulate to
protect public health and ensure high health and safety standards on
imported products. 

The Trade Bill sets out the key measures required for the UK
Government to implement international trade agreements at the end of
the transition period. The Shadow International Trade team have
serious concerns that in the clamour to secure continuity of trade
post-Brexit, as well as to rapidly agree new trade deals due to the
current economic environment, the UK will come under significant
pressure from its non-EU trading partners to liberalise aspects of its
trade policy in ways that could damage the healthcare sector and
public health. 

This Government has acknowledged that ‘substantive changes’ will
be needed in transitioning existing EU trade agreements into UK
agreements. It is already clear that some countries have already made
efforts to use this rollover of agreements as an opportunity to seek
more favourable conditions for their own EU trade agreements to UK
agreements. For example, some countries have already sought lobby
groups in both the US and Australia to push for the sale of
hormone-treated beef to be available in the UK. I will be spending
the next month working on the bill at committee stage, before it
returns to parliament in a month’s time and will keep constituents
updated on this important bill.

In my role as a Shadow Minister for International Trade, I have also
continued to meet (via Zoom) with various trade bodies and senior
industrial stakeholders to understand what concerns they have
regarding both the trading environment for importing and exporting our
goods. This week, I joined Deputy Mayor for London, Rajesh Agrawal
[[link removed]]a
Zoom call with the Confederation of Indian Industry.
[[link removed]]


The daily rise in Covid-19 cases has flattened in Harrow (for now) and
I am pleased to hear that the number of those hospitalised at London
North West University Healthcare NHS Trust for Covid has reduced by
75% since its peak in early April and the number of those in need of
critical care has also halved. 

We owe a huge debt to our NHS staff and it is clear we must continue
to stick to the important social distancing measures. The reduction in
Covid cases allows our hospitals to open up further for non-covid
operations. Small numbers of operations are now taking place at the St
Marks facility at Northwick Park Hospital and staff are working hard
to open additional facilities by mid-July. 

Very grateful to Northwick Park Hospital clinicians who are
facilitating urgent cancer treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital and
to those working hard at the Central Middlesex & Clementine Churchill
Hospitals who are continuing to treat urgent local NHS non-covid


Just ten people had died of Covid-19 when Public Health England
stopped community testing back on March 12; today, with the launch of
NHS Test and Trace two and a half months later, the official death
toll is approaching 40,000 — and the real number is thought to be
far higher. Those countries like Germany and South Korea that have
invested early in this type of process have seen much lower death

Track and tracing started in Harrow on Thursday evening. The NHS test
and trace service will help to control the rate of reproduction (R),
reduce the spread of the infection and save lives.

The most important thing to make sure the system works is public
confidence in it, to help drive cooperation, sadly amongst the
backdrop of the Government’s action or inaction of the past week,
public confidence will be diminished. In Harrow, we will need everyone
asked to cooperate fully with NHS Test and Trace’s stay at home
instructions to keep all of us safe. The very last thing we need at
this stage of the pandemic is for people to copy the actions of
Cummings, and ministerial endorsement of it, and break the quarantine
laws when they are asked to isolate under the new tracing system.

Read more about how test and trace will help fight the virus.
[[link removed]]


[HC Coronavirus response]

The council has a webpage covering their own response to the
coronavirus pandemic, this is regularly being updated and is
available here.  
[[link removed]]

[[link removed]]


[Tip updated times]


Headstone Manor & Museum is undertaking a contemporary collecting
project focused around the current pandemic the world is experiencing.
With lockdowns in place, increased use of social media platforms, food
crises, economic setbacks, medical emergencies, and local government
pressures, this period of uncertainty has affected us all. Headstone
Manor museum believe this is a period of history that needs to be told
for the generations to come and so have launched a collecting project
to capture the impact of the crisis as it unfolds in Harrow, with the
view of framing it within the wider global story. 

The museum are calling on Harrow residents to submit materials for
this collection. Full information on what they are hoping to collect
can be found here.
[[link removed]]


Harrow Council has a webpage set up specifically to find support
across Harrow and London here.
[[link removed]]
 There has been a steady increase in the number of contacts and
referrals involving Domestic Abuse over the past week, which
reflects some of the trends seen in other parts of London, and other
parts of the country. Harrow Council have had sufficient capacity to
deal with this investigative work in collaboration with the Police and
other agencies.

Domestic abuse is historically an under-reported crime and victims may
now feel even more isolated with less opportunity to access help and
support. With this in mind, the police are now publicising more
information that will help and support communities. 

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or you know a friend, relative
or neighbour who you think is at risk, call the police right away. In
an emergency, always call 999 – high harm domestic abuse calls will
continue to be prioritised. The 24/7 National Domestic Abuse
helpline, which offers support to victims and people affected by
domestic abuse, is free to call on 0808 2000 247. 

EVERYONE ACTIVE, the Council’s leisure contractor, is
providing 20 classes free of charge each week live on the main
Everyone Active Harrow Facebook page 
[link removed] . The classes are open to anyone
and all ages and levels of fitness are catered for. The sessions
include yoga, family fitness, conditioning, family pilates, and cardio


Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put
together a joint document
[[link removed]] signposting
residents to a collection of some of the most helpful and trusted
sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s

For young people (high school and college age), the
document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here
[[link removed]] – covering
how to stay healthy, stay connected and learn new skills during this


Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources
[[link removed]]
 for all members of the family to keep entertained while libraries
are closed. You will be able to find resource to help with homework,
eBooks, newspapers and magazines and keeping yourself healthy and

Counselling services and mental health support

·       Relate Family Mediation 
[[link removed]] - a
service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis.
Tel: 0300 0032324 or email [email protected].

·       DAWN [[link removed]]  - provide
a counselling service to the local community of Harrow and its
neighbouring boroughs. Tel: 020 8427 6796 or
email: [email protected]

·       Need To Talk [[link removed]]  - offering
1 to 1 counselling supporting their clients or any client by telephone
or webcam. Tel: call/ text on 07427548559 or
email [email protected]

·       Ignite Trust 
[[link removed]]  - During these challenging
and uncertain times, Ignite Trust is working hard to ensure they
continue to provide support to the boroughs most vulnerable and
at-risk young people. Email [email protected].

·        [[link removed]] Every
Mind Matters [[link removed]] - Expert
advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health
and wellbeing.


The council have set up a hotline telephone number to support those in
need of assistance in Harrow, if you are in need of support due to
Covid please give the hotline a call - 0208 901 2698



The collaborative ‘FEEDING HARROW’ operation – between Harrow
Council, Harrow Food Bank, the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS),
Harrow Community Transport (HCT), The Bridge, My Yard, The Breaking
Bread Trust, Stanmore Temple and Mosque, Harrow School and others
continues to operate effectively.

Over 9000 food deliveries have now taken place across Harrow - VCS
have setup an online system taking direct food requests from
residents-  [/]
[/]. All of the Harrow Council and central
government shielded list has already been referred for delivery. 

If you can donate any food - KIND CAFÉ @ THE BRIDGE, WEALDSTONE,

Monday to Friday 10:30AM-4PM, and they larger quantities can be
arranged for collection. 


COMMUNITY ACTION continue to work with Harrow Council to help
coordinate a Harrow wide response to the Coronavirus outbreak and a
database is being compiled of people who are willing to volunteer.
Voluntary Action Harrow are using this database to inform people of
organisations looking for volunteers. Please sign up here: 
[link removed]
[[link removed]]


My office have been able to match key workers with free rooms for
those with family or housemates self-isolating. If you are able to
temporarily offer a spare room to a key worker currently unable to be
at home due to a family member or a housemate self-isolating, please
get in touch with my office by e-mailing
[email protected] with subject “spare room”.


Do you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable? Please

A reminder, if you think you fall into a category that makes you
vulnerable to coronavirus – register with the Government here
[[link removed]]. For example,
you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential
supplies like food. The council has just started to receive this
information and is working with local organisations to provide support
to those who apply.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you
extremely vulnerable, register anyway. This service is free. You can
register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.
[[link removed]]

AGE UK is determined to be here for older people and their families
throughout the coronavirus crisis, they have compiled a helpful
coronavirus information pack to access here:
[[link removed]]

 [link removed]
[/ [link removed]]

HARROW TALKING THERAPIES - The coronavirus crisis is unlike anything
many of us will have encountered before and will, at some point, take
its toll on our own mental well-being and the well-being of those
closest to us. For anyone who is struggling with their mental health
at this current time - Harrow Talking Therapies is a FREE NHS service
offering support to those who are finding the current situation
difficult. They offer 1:1 support via telephone or Video call. They
offer bereavement support, anxiety and worry management support, low
mood support and also help if you are self-isolating, or feel isolated
being on your own at this time amongst other support you might be
needing at this time. 

Please get in touch by calling 0208 515 5015 (lines are open
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) or emailing  [email protected]. You will be
assessed very quickly and booked in for treatment quickly too.

CORONAVIRUS SCAMS - The Government are advising the public to be extra
vigilant and be wary of scams related to Covid-19, please read the
Government's guidance here -
[link removed]
[[link removed]]

A COVID-19 COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROUP has been set-up, coordinating
action within WhatsApp groups for every ward in Harrow in order to
provide support to local residents – you are welcome to  join the
Facebook group here
[[link removed]] 
[[link removed]]and
if you are not a Facebook member but would like to join your ward’s
WhatsApp group – e-mail [email protected] with your postcode
and the coordinators will add you to the correct group.

ST MARY’S CHURCH - If you are in need of support or company – a
visit (where possible), a telephone call, help with shopping etc. St.
Mary’s would like you to get in contact. You can do this in a
variety of ways via the Church Office. The Office is open on Tuesdays
and Thursdays 9am – 2pm but the messages will be checked daily.

Email: [email protected], Tel: 020 8423 4014 (answerphone:
leave your contact details)

HARROW CENTRAL MOSQUE – Harrow Mosque is providing a free food and
essentials transport service to elderly and vulnerable people in
Harrow who require assistance with medical collection or other
essentials – Call or SMS: 07874869484 E-mail:
[email protected]


I appreciate that whilst this outbreak of Covid-19 is currently
dominating a lot of our thoughts, other concerns and problems do not
disappear. However, to help reduce the spread of infection, I am
asking members of the public who need to contact my office to do so by
phone or email rather than in person and further, I will continue to
hold surgery appointments exclusively by telephone and Zoom video
conferencing. This is a temporary measure and a sensible precaution to
protect vulnerable people. Please be assured we continue to offer a
full service of advice and support to members of the public who need

As always, my office can be contacted
on [email protected] or by telephone on 0207 219 4243


Best wishes,


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