Firstly, my thoughts are with those in Harrow with family or direct links in Afghanistan. After pressure from MPs, I certainly believe it was the right move to recall Parliament this week. The Prime Minister must now take urgent steps to find a broad cross-party consensus on plans to work with allies to avoid a greater humanitarian crisis and lay out a strategy to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism. There is undoubtedly a real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls. There needs to be a coordinated approach from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a strategy to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights. Thank you to everyone that has been in contact so far. For anyone living in Harrow West who has family or direct links in Afghanistan - please feel free to get in contact with me on Gareth.Tho[email protected]. For people currently in Afghanistan, please register with the British Embassy Kabul on +93 (0) 700 102 000 or +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals”.
I would like to say a huge well done to those GCSE and A-Level students in Harrow that received their results last week. You have endured under very difficult circumstances but have pulled through together. A huge thank you too to all the teachers, parents and school support staff who have worked incredibly hard in the face of big challenges to get us here. Good luck on your next steps what ever that may be and do get in touch if there is anything you would like to raise.
For much of the country, the “pingdemic” will come to an end this week. The Government has confirmed changes to the current self-isolation rules and those who are doubled jabbed and are a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case will no longer be required to self-isolate unless they themselves test positive. Additionally, to ensure young people can make the most of their education, under-18s will also be exempt from self-isolation.
Over the past week, Harrow has seen 663 cases of coronavirus, which is down 7% from last week, at the same time we have seen 61 patients admitted to hospitals in the past seven days. As Local authorities continue to monitor the spread of the Delta and Beta variants, it is worth recognising that two doses offer the best protection against either variant at this time. According to our local NHS Trust, the most ill in our hospitals are not vaccinated - 73% of those admitted in June/July were not fully vaccinated. 61% had no vaccination at all. So I continue to
urge everyone that has not yet done so to book their vaccine here
– not only to keep yourselves safe but to reduce the spread, save lives and reduce the pressure on our NHS. Vaccines are now being offered to all those who are 16 and older.
While I and well over half of Harrow have now been fully vaccinated, we still need people to get their doses when they are called.
Harrow still remains one of the best performing boroughs in London for vaccinations, with over 70% of eligible Harrow residents having had at least one dose and over 60% fully vaccinated. Again, we owe a huge thank you to everyone that has brought us to this level and continue to make this happen - all of our NHS staff at London Northwest Healthcare Trust, community pharmacies, local volunteers at Byron Hall, Tithe Farm, Grims Dyke who have been quietly supported by Metropolitan Police Service officers, London Fire Brigade, the Armed Forces, Harrow Council staff & numerous others.
I hope readers continue to stay safe and regularly check in on loved ones. As always, people are being urged to remain vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 If you're feeling unwell with any of the symptoms of
Covid, a new continuous cough, high temperature, or a loss of or change to taste or smell, it's vital that you get tested. If you feel fine and are leaving the house on a regular basis – please do get a free
rapid test and help stop the asymptomatic spread via https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice is available here. Government
assistance specifically for businesses is available here.
A reminder that if you 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 five times our regular casework correspondence in recent months.
In May, the Government announced green, amber and red lists for travelling abroad. Red list countries are not permitted for travel for the purpose of leisure, while fully vaccinated people are now allowed to travel to green and amber list countries without having to quarantine upon their return. Last Month, the Transport Secretary announced green “watch lists” to be updated every three weeks, with countries on the list kept under review, responding “to emerging evidence, with a particular focus on variants of concern”.
The Government state they will update and potentially amend the list every three weeks to avoid excess disruption, but a decision can be made immediately, as seen in cases like France.
You can sign up to an email alert to be notified when this list changes here.
The current green list countries:
Arrivals from green list countries need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK.
However, they do not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests.
The countries that are currently on the green list are as follows:
5. Antigua and Barbuda
9. Cayman Islands
12. Turks and Caicos
13. British Antartic Territory
14. British Indian Ocean Territory
16. Pitcairn Islands
17. Israel and Jerusalem
20. New Zealand
24. Falkland Islands
25. Faroe Islands
26. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
27. St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island
28. Hong Kong
30. Austria (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
31. Germany (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
32. Slovenia (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
33. Slovakia (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
34. Latvia (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
35. Romania (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
36. Norway (added to green list from 04:00 BST Sunday 8 August)
The most recent travel review was on the 4th August and another will be expected later this month.
Full details on the lists and rules can be found here:
This month 16 and 17 year olds in Harrow will begin to receive text messages offering a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. These vaccinations are intended to provide a vital two weeks of immunity against the virus before young people return to school in September. 16-17 year olds will be able to walk-in to the Byron Hall NHS Covid Vaccination Centre just next to Harrow Leisure Centre, Christchurch Avenue, Harrow HA3 5BD.
All those aged 18 and older, continue to be invited to receive the vaccine. If you live in Harrow or the surrounding area and you have not yet had your Covid-19 vaccine, you can now book into Byron Hall here:
When you attend for your vaccine please bring some ID with you and your NHS number if you have it.
The vaccine is currently being given to
- people aged 16 and over
- people at high risk from COVID-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
- people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- people with a learning disability
- people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- Find out more about who can get a COVID-19 vaccine
- Visit the nhs.uk website for more info and guidance on how to book: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
I am delighted to share that the indefatigable group of South Harrow Litter Pickers have been nominated for a Harrow Heroes Group Award. Over the past month, South Harrow Litter Pickers collected 215 bags of litter, accruing 205 volunteer hours (That’s roughly 29 working days!) and reported 49 flytips. This is an incredible contribution and is making a huge difference in South Harrow.
Across Harrow, dedicated litter picking groups are being set up for roads and local areas. Comprised of friends, neighbours, parkgoers and more, these groups really care about our community and really want to Keep Harrow Clean. If you are a frequent litter-picker, please get in touch. I would love to highlight the work you do, to help clean up our community and hopefully encourage more people to join you.
There is a Facebook Group that Harrow litter-pickers can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3756420717703707
Every year, I have great demand for work experience in my office and the pandemic has unfortunately placed that on hold. I am also aware that young people have not been able to access as many opportunities due to the virus. So, last month, I wanted to offer up some first-hand insight into the world of political campaigning for young people in Harrow – bringing in local and national campaigners, and influential voices from Harrow to Westminster.
We started the week at ‘Made in Harrow’ – together collecting hundreds of signatures for my campaign to extend parking relief to NHS workers. Students heard from a number of Harrow-based campaigners, first working with ‘London’s Community Kitchen’ in their campaign mission for ‘Zero Waste and Zero Hunger’, following the success of their first Made in Harrow event. Later in the week, students joined South Harrow Litter-Pickers with workers from Shaftesbury Circle McDonald’s to support their efforts to ‘Keep Harrow Clean’.
Closing the campaign school in City Hall, students met with newly elected Brent and Harrow London Assembly Member, Krupesh Hirani. Students were able to hear about Krupesh’s campaigns in youth and disability charities. Early in his career, Krupesh worked to change the public perception of young people in the media, challenging newspaper editors to share just as many positive stories about young people as negative stories. During the week Gareth also returned to his roots, taking students to the Harrow Civic Centre, for a tour from council leader Graham Henson, as well as holding discussions with the Mayor Ghazanfar Ali and Cabinet Member for Community Cohesion, Cllr Peymana Assad. Students also spoke with former Harrow Independent Councillor, Georgia Weston on her successful campaign to save Pinner Farm.
While on a national level, students spoke to Eden Kulig of Voluntary Service Overseas, who quizzed Gareth on his years as a Minister in the Department for International Development and shared the work that VSO are doing to bring Medical, Teaching, Agricultural skill training to countries in need. Students also spoke with Harrow local, Fatima Ibrahim, the co-executive Director of Green New Deal UK, who shared their efforts to bring about “system change not climate change” and build support across the country for a Green New Deal.
A reminder to get a regular test in a rapid test centre - about 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. The NHS advice is to do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading. Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep getting tested regularly.
You can test at sites across Harrow, including at many pharmacies, open 7 days a week.
• You have coronavirus symptoms: 🤒 fever and/or new and continuous cough and/or loss of or change to sense of taste or smell
• You are an ‘essential worker’ who is not having symptoms
• You have been asked by NHS Test & Trace or Harrow Council to have a test
Harrow Talking Therapies
If you're anxious, feeling low or stressed about the impact of the virus on you or loved ones, Harrow Talking Therapies Service is here to help.
Part of the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy service, it supports people feeling isolated or worrying about what's going on, as well those dealing with depression, bereavement and insomnia.
Available via phone or video call: https://talkingtherapies.cnwl.nhs.uk/harrow
Please don’t be afraid to reach out by phone for help if you are worried about your mental health:
Samaritans: 116 123, CALM: 0800 58 58 58
Young Minds:0800 018 2138
The Mix (under 25s): 0808 808 4994
Harrow Council also encourage calling the Coronavirus Hotline: 0208 901 2698
The council continues to operate a hotline telephone number during weekends in order to provide support to 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
Guide to Tax Debt and Mental Health
Some of the topics in the above guide to tax debt and mental health will be of support to constituents, in order to:
Understand the impact of debt to mental health - the different kinds of debt (e.g. tax debt) and how they can be a key source of stress, depression, and anxiety if not planned and managed properly.
Advice for dealing with debt such as setting up a Debt Management Plan or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), qualifying for a Debt Relief Order (DRO), or even filing bankruptcy to get some protection and keep life
essentials like pension savings safe from creditors.
What to do if debt problems begin affecting your mental health. This includes recognizing the symptoms and early warning signs of mental health problems associated with debt as well as advice on where to turn to for help
Other useful information and resources, including debt charities and organisations that are dedicated to helping people conquer their debt problems.
Support for Domestic Abuse Victims
Anyone that is experiencing domestic abuse can now go into a Boots or an independent chemist and seek help. If they say the codeword ‘ANI’ (pronounced Annie), they’ll be taken to a private room
and asked if they want to call 999 or a domestic abuse helpline. ANI stands for Action Needed Immediately.
📞National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
📞Respect helpline for male victims of abuse 0808 8010327
Due to COVID - FirmFoundation have suspended drop-in facilities. If you are homeless and rough sleeping, you can call Streetlink on 0300 5000 914. Ring Harrow Council on 020 8424 1093 – you can also contact FirmFoundation
through the Contact Us page on their website or call the office on 02084265515.
Fresh Horizons CND
The Fresh Horizons CND charity based in Wembley has supported accommodation available for the single homeless in Harrow during the ongoing coronavirus restrictions. If you or someone you know is in need of supported accommodation,
Fresh Horizons can be contacted by telephone at 0300 321 4702 or via email at [email protected]
Support for children and young people
Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put together a joint document signposting residents to a collection of some
of the most helpful and trusted sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s wellbeing.
For young people (high school and college age), the document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here – covering how to stay healthy, stay
connected and learn new skills during this time.
Support and online resources for the family
Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources
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 motivated.
Counselling services and mental health support
• 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing
- A fantastic primer on stress, anxiety and depression from the NHS. Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help
you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
· Relate Family Mediation
- a service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis. Tel: 0300 0032324 or email i[email protected].
- 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
- 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
- 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].
Every Mind Matters - Expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
London's Community Kitchen
London's Community Kitchen (based at The Bridge, next to Harrow Leisure Centre) run a Free Surplus Food Market open to everyone every Friday from 3-5PM.
This operation continues to serve over thousands of people across Harrow and London. Please consider donating or getting involved in any way that you can with this incredible Harrow-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic:
If you’re ever in need of their support, the Community Kitchen want to help - they won’t ask you for any details, or anything in return, just turn up and they will provide you with food.
The Community Kitchen would love any support to keep their operation running as effectively as possible. Please get in touch with Vivette Morrow: [email protected] and once you
have had a Covid test, she will help set you up as a volunteer!
Harrow Foodbank continues to highlight the impact of in-work poverty and the number of ways that people find themselves at a crisis point. Donations are accepted in collection bins after checkout at all major supermarkets.
The Foodbank continue to emphasise the majority of its users are in work, but many are in need of emergency food provisions. If you can, please consider providing a monetary donation to the food bank, they have acquired
a van and plan to make deliveries to vulnerable residents across the borough in 2021 - send an email to [email protected] or visit Harrow.foodbank.org.uk for
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 it.
My office can be contacted on [email protected] or by telephone on 0207 219 4243 (Monday-Friday). Please bear with us, as we have received five times our regular casework correspondence in recent months.
If you'd rather not receive future emails from us, please click here to manage your communication preferences.
Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Keith Ferry on behalf of Gareth Thomas, both at 132-134 Blenheim Road, Harrow, HA2 7AA Website: www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0345 092 2299.