This week, we recognise National Carers Week, an annual event that provides an important opportunity to recognise and value the remarkable contribution of unpaid carers, as well as identifying the support they need to care safely and well.
I know this is an important matter to many across our constituency. I wrote to the Health Secretary last year about a Recovery and Respite Plan for Unpaid Carers, you can find my letter below.
While successive Conservative Governments have delayed reform, the next Labour Government will deliver a 10-year plan of investment and reform. Labour will put social care on an equal footing with the NHS, improve access, and ensure every older and disabled person gets the right support when and where they need it.
For me, this means building towards a National Care Service, which is locally delivered but underpinned by high national standards. This must start with better pay, terms, and conditions for care workers to address recruitment and retention.
I express my gratitude to all those carers across Edgbaston!
Afghan Women and Girls
This week, I met inspiring Afghan women, and contributed to a Westminster Hall debate on the situation facing women and girls in Afghanistan.
This debate took place almost a year after I visited Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban the previous summer. At that time, Labour urged the Government to set out a comprehensive strategy for their engagement with Afghanistan. Sadly, UK policy since 2021 has remained piecemeal, uncoordinated, and inadequate to lift the Afghan people out of protracted crisis, nor has it had influence with respect to the wilful destruction of the basic rights and freedoms of Afghan women.
Women have been prevented from entering parks and gyms, among other public places, and women hold no Cabinet posts in the de facto Administration. Meanwhile, a January 2023 poll found that women could no longer access services from one in five of the 87 Afghan NGOs surveyed.
The women of Afghanistan had a very simple message for the United Kingdom when I met them last year: 'do not forget us'. Britain and its allies must stand with them. As Shadow Minister for International Development, I will not forget them.
The voice of Afghan women must be heard!
BBC Local Radio
For me, the BBC is a great British institution and local radio is the cornerstone of it. Therefore, I am deeply concerned about changes the BBC is planning to make to large parts of its local radio output – after BBC England announced cuts to its funding for local radio programming in October last year.
Whether it is local traffic updates, school closures or extreme weather events, the provision of trustworthy local news is vital, especially at a time when misinformation is becoming common but hard to spot in a digital world. Regular local programming also gives people access to the arts, charities, education, and cultural events that are truly relevant to them.
I have therefore joined a cross-party group of West Midlands MPs to write to the BBC with our concerns. In the letter, we ask that the BBC reconsider its approach and ensure there is proper consultation about the impact of any proposed changes so that it can deliver the value to our constituents that we know it is capable of.
Please find my letter in full below.
The recently opened Bartley Green & Northfield Community Fridge are looking for volunteers. If you can spare some time to help out, please reach out to the organisers on BgnFridge@outlook.com. You can also find out more information online here.
I recently learned from Calthorpe Estates that they have awarded their first ever bursary to a student from our constituency. I wish to put on record my thanks to Calthorpe for funding this bursary and to wish Arnand success in their continued studies!
The University of Birmingham is once again demonstrating itself as a leading UK university. On Tuesday, I learned the Department for Transport announced the university had won a Transport Research Innovation Grant, to support research into innovative transport ideas. Meanwhile, the university has also won a £10 million grant from Cancer Research UK to continue its world-class clinical trials. I pay tribute to all those at the university for their continued excellence.
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend in the sun!
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton