I wish you all a very Happy New Year.  Times are hard, I know; though, I am truly hopeful that the Covid vaccines, delivered rapidly to the people who need them most, will make this year so much better than last.

Many lives will be saved by fast vaccination, through the Spring and into the Summer.  I hope we’ll be able to see our families again and soon go about our normal lives once more.

However, until those vaccines are in our arms, and they’ve had time to create immunity throughout our communities, we still have to be so very careful.  As you know, the virus has spread extremely quickly of late and I’m incredibly worried about the added burden and strain on our hospitals and our wonderful NHS staff.

We didn’t get the Christmas we hoped for, but for many nurses, doctors, porters and ambulance staff it was worse than that.  They didn’t get a break at all.  Their leave, and the rest they need, is being cancelled so they can help overcome the steeply increasing levels of Covid.

Just as deadly as COVID can be not asking for timely medical advice and assistance.  The NHS is still there for us.  If we need medical help for other reasons, we must ask for it.  Health problems get worse, if they go untreated.

Newham has the second highest child poverty in the country.  Despite this, our excellent teachers do so much to give our children opportunities.  Too many of our children don’t have laptops, or only have a smartphone or tablet shared between multiple siblings.  Broadband access is a cost many families struggle to afford.

Closing schools again is a very serious step, but the virus spreads so fast there is no other option.  Teachers, non-teaching staff, grandparents, children and our wider community face unacceptable risks, if schools remain open.

Children’s life chances, too, are jeopardised, unless Government provides laptops and broadband to all those in need in our community.

Let us continue to pull together, supporting each other through the coming months.  Sadly, that means staying home whenever possible.

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