Following this month’s local elections, we are welcoming a new set of members to Hillingdon Council. While councillors often do not enjoy the same public profile as MPs, they play a crucial role in our democracy representing their local communities and delivering vital public services. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who put themselves forward as a candidate and, of course, congratulate those who were successful.
I would also like to pay tribute to the many council staff working tirelessly to administer the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. It is truly wonderful that so many people have generously offered to help people fleeing Putin’s barbaric assault, and here too, local authorities have an important role to play in offering a warm welcome. As well as supporting access to healthcare and benefits, Hillingdon Council is working alongside local partners – such as the fantastic Trinity Homeless Projects – to help families rebuild their lives and fully integrate into communities. As a nation, it is only right that we do everything we can to help those who have had to leave everything they know and love behind, and the Government will be supporting councils across the country with additional resources and funding.
As I am sure you will agree, we can also be immensely proud of Hillingdon NHS staff and volunteers – who make such an enormous difference in the lives of our community. I was delighted to have the opportunity to recognise some of these local heroes by nominating the Hillingdon Cove Café for this year’s NHS Parliamentary Awards. Created by crisis support charity Hestia, in partnership with the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, the Café provides a welcoming, safe, and supportive space – as well as a hot drink and snack – for people experiencing mental health distress without the need for a referral or an appointment. Staff at the Café do incredible work to equip people with the skills they need to reduce their immediate anxiety, formulate individual self-directed safety plans, and signpost them to local services and resources that may help.
The Awards were launched in 2018 to celebrate the NHS’s 70 birthday, and recognise the outstanding contribution of staff, volunteers and others working in the health and care sector. The winners will be announced in July, but in the meantime, I am determined to help end the stigma surrounding mental health, which has led to too many people suffering in silence for too long. The Government is currently consulting on plans for a new National Mental Health Plan, seeking views on how to improve mental health services and understand the causes of mental ill-health, and with Mental Health Awareness week taking place this month, I would encourage anyone is distress to visit www.nhstalk2us.org to talk in confidence with trained professionals or to find out what further support is available.
Finally, I know many of you will be looking forward to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee next month. Events and activities are being held right across the borough to celebrate, including a beacon trail for families, a picnic in the park, and the lighting of the Queen's beacon. I am also delighted that more than 100 street parties have been approved. With a special 4-day Jubilee bank holiday weekend, this will be a great opportunity for the local community to come together and enjoy this historic moment, marking Her Majesty’s extraordinary 70 years of service. God Save the Queen.