Community and Voluntary Sector

Brixton Windmill Festival

Monday, September 19th, 2011

This weekend, Chuka attended Brixton Windmill Festival, organised by Friends of Windmill Gardens.

Earlier this year, Chuka cut the ribbon alongside the Mayor of Lambeth and a descendent of the mill’s original owner as the mill was reopened to the public after its restoration.

Some pictures from the Festival and the Brixton Garden Party, held on Fairmount Road nearby to mark the opening of a new community garden, are below:

Clapham Park Over-50s Social Club

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

A social club for the over-50s is appealing for Co-operative members to vote for them in a national fundraising competition.

The Clapham Park Over-50s Social Club has been shortlisted for the £2,000 grant from the Co-op group and now needs to get enough votes to win the money they desperately need to fund them in this tough financial climate.

Thornton Labour councillors Ed Davie, Diana Morris and Lib Peck nominated the Clapham Park Over-50s Social Club for the £2,000 grant from the Co-op group after being concerned about the club’s future.

Cllr Davie said: “We regularly visit the club and it provides a vital opportunity for older residents, some of whom can get isolated, to socialise and get advice. They desperately need some money to be able to pay for their activities and transport for those less able to walk. I hope everyone goes to website and casts a vote for them.”

Club organiser Elspeth Anderson, who was recently given a Lambeth Civic Award for her work, said: “Some of our older residents can get very isolated and vulnerable and this weekly coffee morning and monthly lunch club really gives us all a place to go and socialise. Winning this money would provide a real life-line so please take the time to vote for us.”

Local senior citizens’ centre under threat because of government cuts

Friday, April 8th, 2011

A local day centre for elderly people could be facing closure as a result of government cuts – local MP Chuka Umunna has raised the issue in Parliament this week.

Lambeth Senior Citizens, which is based on Lambert Road off Brixton Hill provides a daily lunch club for the elderly as well as extensive pastoral care. For those who attend the lunch club, many of whom live alone, the club provides pastoral care and a chance to meet and socialise with others.

As well as a low-cost lunch, the elderly people who use the centre are given help and assistance and regular outings are organised. Mr Umunna recently visited the centre and met with many of the elderly people who use it, who told him of what an important part of their lives it was.

Because of government cuts in local authority funding, the future of Lambeth Senior Citizens is in doubt. In Parliament this week, Mr Umunna asked whether ministers would visit the centre to see the affects of cuts to local government budgets on the ground, but this invitation was not accepted.

The Centre provides food and a place to go during the day for elderly people, helping them stay fit and healthy and ensuring that they do not become lonely and isolated so it helps prevent them needing costly treatment and care from the state.

Under the government’s local authority funding settlement, the most deprived 10% of single-tier authorities will see their total spending power reduced by nearly four times as much as the least deprived 10% of single-tier local authorities.

Cuts made by the Conservative-led government to council budgets will mean that per resident, Lambeth’s budget will fall by £104.10 per person in 2011/12 and £55 in 2012/13. Research undertaken by the House of Commons Library, shows that Lambeth’s revenue spending power will fall by £29.88 in financial year 2011/12 and £15.9m in financial year 2012/13.

Commenting, Mr Umunna said: “Lambeth Senior Citizens provides an invaluable service to its users – many of whom are elderly people living alone.

“As a result of the government’s cuts the centre has an uncertain future, but taking away the support which the centre provides could end up costing the exchequer more in the long run.

“The cuts which the government is imposing on local council budgets hit the poorest communities hardest and are putting frontline services at risk. Ministers are going too far too fast and areas like ours are paying the price.”

Oxfam climate change campaign – Chuka meets with local volunteers

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Chuka met with volunteers at Streatham’s Oxfam charity shop and signed Oxfam’s petition urging the government to do more to protect the world’s poorest people from the effects of climate change.

Commenting, Chuka said:

“I congratulate Oxfam on this campaign and in particular the volunteers at Oxfam’s Streatham shop for all their hard work. It is crucial that we tackle the causes of climate change and keep up the pressure for action”

People’s Question Time on Community Garden

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Chuka is holding a People’s Question Time to discuss an exciting potential community development in the area. At this very early stage of the development, residents’ views are being sought on the idea and the potential building design.

Date: Wednesday 6th April
Time: 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Venue: Corpus Christi RC Church, 11 Trent Road, SW2 5BJ

At the meeting a proposal will be discussed to turn a row of disused garages at the rear of Fairmount Road and Raleigh Gardens into a green, creative space for the community. This development would turn a wasteland into a financially sustainable community building and garden that would provide a real oasis in a crowded urban space.

There are already many exciting ideas about what could be done with this space, including developing a community kitchen and cafe to promote healthy eating and demonstrate the benefits of using fresh, own grown produce and engaging in community activities including animation, film, sculpture, creative writing, live music, arts and crafts.

The project will be introduced by local resident Katherine Rake and the building designs presented by architect Jerry Tate.

Streatham parents’ charity adopts MP as patron

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Chuka Umunna, Member of Parliament for Streatham, has been appointed a patron of local charity St Michael’s Fellowship.

The Streatham-based charity, which was recently featured in an edition of BBC documentary programme Panorama, does outreach work with young parents, helps them develop parenting skills and offering them free advice and support.

Local young parents aged 24 and under are given help and one-to-one support by St Michael’s Fellowship with sexual health, finding work and housing and addressing domestic abuse. The charity, which was set up in 1903, also runs support groups for young parents and activities for marginalized young fathers to take part in with their children.

Its work with young men focuses on the multiple problems which often face young fathers and which impact on their parenting. In the past two years, St Michael’s has reconnected more than 100 fathers with their children locally.

The Panorama programme ‘Britain’s Missing Dads’ which was broadcast last month, focussed on the charity’s young fathers’ programme and looked into the stereotyping of young fathers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, St Michael’s Young Parents Outreach Programme is currently under threat from government funding cuts and is seeking to expand its fundraising.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said: “St Michael’s Fellowship does fantastic work in my constituency and beyond, and I am proud to have been appointed a Patron of the charity.”

“The outreach support which St Michael’s Fellowship provides for young parents makes a real difference to the lives of both parent and child and has a positive impact on society at large.”

Love Streatham

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Chuka recently had the opportunity to meet with some of the members of Love Streatham, a group made up of local churches who are involved in projects to provide practical assistance and a sense of community to local people in need.

Commenting on the meeting, Chuka said:
“I was very interested to hear about the great work which Love Streatham do and their plans for the future. Local groups carrying out social action projects are well placed to make a big difference in the community, so I am very grateful for the hard work and dedication of the church members involved in Love Streatham”.

More information on Love Streatham is available here

MP fights in Parliament for debt advice at local Citizens Advice Bureau

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Streatham Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is set to lose the services of a personal finance and debt advice caseworker following the government’s decision to axe the Financial Inclusion Fund. Local MP Chuka Umunna has spoken in a debate on debt advice to highlight the cut facing the local centre and the impact it will have.

Streatham CAB currently benefits from a debt advice and personal finance caseworker funded through the Financial Inclusion Fund who visits regularly to help local people who need advice in these areas. Because of the government’s decision to scrap the Financial Inclusion Fund, the centre will lose the services of the caseworker entirely.

This will mean that unless individuals qualify for legal aid, they will not be able to receive assistance with debt and personal finance issues. The caseworker has assisted more than 400 debt advice queries.

Chuka Umunna has also made a speech in a debate on consumer credit, and voted to protect the most vulnerable consumers by supporting the introduction of caps on the extraordinary amounts that payday and doorstop lenders can charge for credit.

In the Streatham constituency there exist high street lenders charging rates as high as 400% APR despite the Bank of England base rate having remained at just 0.5% since March 2009. Mr Umunna, who has championed the campaign to bring an end to legal loan sharking from the outset, in his speech during the House of Commons debate on the issue recently drew attention to high street banks’ poor provision of credit to low income individuals and the substandard quality of financial advice given to customers.

Commenting, Mr Umunna said: “This represents a huge loss to our local Citizens Advice Bureau which will mean that many people seeking help will not have anywhere else to go.

“Our local Citizens Advice Bureau does a great job in providing advice and assistance but the government’s decision will limit the help they are able to offer. I am deeply concerned at the impact of this loss on those with debt and financial problems locally.”

Nehemiah Project visit

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I was very pleased to visit the Nehemiah Project recently – a supported housing programme, which works primarily with addicts leaving prison, helping them to break free from addiction, crime and violence.

The Nehemiah Project operates in my constituency and does amazing work helping some of my most vulnerable constituents to turn their lives around by finding new jobs, apprenticeships or training , re-establishing themselves in the community and rekindling their relationships with their families. During my visit I was able to meet some of its residents and listen to their success stories, which I found truly inspiring.

I am truly grateful to The Nehemiah Project, its brilliant Chief Executive, Ms Kay Hunter Johnston, and all of her staff for their dedication and hard work. They do a wonderful job and have made a tremendously positive contribution to the lives of some of my most disadvantaged constituents. I hope they will be able to keep up the good work!

MP hosts reception to thank volunteers and community champions

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Chuka Umunna MP has hosted a reception in Parliament for volunteers and representatives from organisations who serve the local community.

House of Commons’ Speaker John Bercow, who served as a Streatham councillor in the 1980s, addressed the guests. Speaker Bercow spoke fondly of the time he spent living and working in the constituency and commented on the great community spirit and initiative present in the area.

Invitees included school chairs of governors and headteachers, block champions, members of Safer Neighbourhood Team panels and representatives of tenants and residents associations, local charities, voluntary and community organisations and faith groups.

Val Shawcross, London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark and Ken Livingstone’s running mate for the 2012 Mayoral elections was also present to meet members of the community and addressed the event.

The event, which took place in Parliament, was held to thank and recognise the contribution made by the groups and people working to make the Streatham parliamentary constituency a better place.

Commenting on the event, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“I held this reception because I wanted to recognise and applaud the work of people locally who give something back to the community.

“There are so many people who give their time for the good of others and the community at large and it is only right that we recognise the massive contribution they make.”