On Thursday 24 June, Sir David Amess spoke in the debate on the role of the community in responding to the Covid-19 outbreak. Sir David praised the community groups, charities and places of worship for being community champions in Southend during the pandemic.
Sir David Amess said:
Local charities, community groups and individuals were vital for helping vulnerable individuals before the pandemic but have been especially important during the recent lockdowns. Many selfless volunteers in Southend have given up their time to assist those who cannot help themselves, and this is a brilliant debate to praise their work which can often go unnoticed.
Southend is fortunate enough to have plenty of wonderful charities that help individuals and groups across a broad range. The Music Man Project, set up by David Stanley, would have been going to Broadway were it not for the pandemic. David Stanley is inspirational and has helped people with learning disabilities realise their full potential through the power of music, even throughout the pandemic. I hope that he, and the Music Man Project, receive recognition for their invaluable work.
I was pleased to support Trust Links’ new online wellbeing service which adapted how they support individuals with mental health and wellbeing issues. I have met Matt King, the Chief Executive, and I do hope they can resume their services of helping 1,500 people every year with therapeutic gardening programmes, counselling, work programmes and mental health and wellbeing coaching.
Local charities that help rough sleepers have been extremely busy during the pandemic and I have been working closely with HARP and Off the Streets who help homeless people get into shelters and receive the Coronavirus vaccine. I supported HARP’s ‘Everyone In’ campaign to ensure that the progress made during the first lockdown to keep rough sleepers safe is not undone. I have seen first-hand the effects of homelessness when visiting night shelters and on street visits – I urge the Government to support the charities helping rough sleepers as restrictions are hopefully eased soon.
I know my colleagues will agree with me that our magnificent carers deserve recognition for the vital work they have been doing. It was Carers Week earlier this month and I was pleased to support Southend Carers and all those unpaid carers to let them know they are valued. The contributions they made to families in Southend show a level of commitment and selflessness which is rare. This week is Children’s Hospice Week and Haven’s Hospice will be launching their Hares About Town project in July to bring communities together to raise awareness of the health problems children are facing and to raise money for the charity. I look forward to this project and wish them the best of luck with it.
Elderly people often need assistance with shopping, deliveries and other day to day tasks which have been made more difficult during the pandemic. It was heart-warming to see the Southend Scouts and the British Legion use their resources and time to assist those who cannot go food shopping or need help collecting medicine.
There are so many charitable individuals in Southend who have a passion for helping others. Carla Cressy founded the Endometriosis Foundation, who I work very closely with as the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, which has been vital in supporting those with this condition through the pandemic. Similarly, Kelly Swain and Natasha Ralph have launched the ‘NOW’s the Time for Change’ campaign aimed at providing health based and therapeutic coaching to improve emotional and mental health for children, young people, adults and families. They focus on early intervention and coaching to overcome life's challenges.
It is not just the charities that have been champions in our communities though. The many places of worship that people rely on in Southend have been providing free online services and social events to continue their community work. With the weather thankfully improving, more people have been using the beaches and Southend Lifeboats and Chalkwell Lifeguards have been very busy keeping everybody safe. I met with the Chalkwell Lifeguards to present them with new emergency equipment which will help save more lives. They do a wonderful job and I hope they are supported throughout the summer.
Southend Emergency Fund has given almost £200,000 to local Southend charities and individuals to provide food, heating, PPE, mental health support and to develop strategies to cope for a life after Coronavirus.
I am pleased that Southend Citizen’s Advice won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services for providing free and impartial advice for individuals in Southend struggling throughout the pandemic.
Last Friday, I launched the public appeal for a permanent memorial statue to the late Dame Vera Lynn. Vera was certainly a community champion as she inspired hope throughout times of hardship. We are raising money from the public for the statue, so please visit the JustGiving page if you would like to donate.
All of the amazing charities and community groups I have mentioned are good reasons as to why Southend should become a city next year. We also have a vibrant and growing arts and culture industry and will hopefully be the city of culture as well. What a great way to truly celebrate and acknowledge our community champions in Southend.