Coronavirus update, 3rd April

These past few weeks have been very difficult for our community. Our daily routines and lives have been turned upside down as we stay indoors and remember the things we used to take for granted. But, amongst all the fear and anxiety the community spirit of our area has shone through. I have heard touching stories of neighbours fetching groceries for vulnerable households, walking dogs for elderly residents and offering companionship through phone calls. In times like this the resilience and generosity of our community will always show itself. I thought I might highlight a few positive things that have happened this week. Shops across the country, including Tesco, ALDI and Sainsbury’s, recognised the impact of panic buying on elderly and vulnerable people and reserved special slots for them to get their shopping done. Businesses like Home Bargains and Greggs have put the welfare of their workers in front of profits, paying their wages whilst they self-isolate. Mercedes Formula 1 team helped develop a breathing aid for Covid-19 patients that doesn’t involve tubes through the skin or mouth. The Government introduced unprecedented financial support packages to support both company employees and self-employed workers. Companies like BrewDog have started manufacturing hand sanitiser instead of their normal products. Air pollution is down almost 50% than it was this time last year. And, the whole nation went outside and clapped to thank our NHS frontline workers, support staff and carers who are putting themselves at risk to help us at this difficult time. We still have a lot of work to do to tackle this disease and its impact but these are all important first steps. Public health and safety needs to come first. Personal protective equipment is needed on the frontline and far more testing for coronavirus needs to take place. I will support every measure to make sure we have the supplies we need, as well as universal community-based testing and contact tracing programmes. We need clarification on what ‘essential work’ is so that everyone who is not a key worker can stay at home, protecting their health and the health of their loved ones. Confusion has allowed bosses to keep trading often without adequate measures in place- like the ASOS warehouse in Great Houghton making workers to come in. I have written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and BEIS Secretary of State and will continue to campaign for the Government to change its guidance on this & close all non-essential workplaces. And until they do all should be complying to government guidance without any excuses. Self-employed workers who started their businesses after April of last year should be offered the same support as everyone else and payments need to be made now to help households who are already facing real hardship. This crisis is the biggest of most of our lifetimes and new challenges emerge every day. I will keep fighting for the support, resources and help our community needs to weather this crisis and together we will get through this. Throughout all this my constituency office remains open, albeit with the staff working remotely from home, and we are here to offer help and support as we navigate through these difficult times. If you need assistance please do not hesitate to get in contact, either by leaving a voicemail on 01226 743483 or by email to

Wombwell Yorkshire Bank branch - 2nd April

I welcome Virgin Money UK’s decision to keep the Wombwell Yorkshire Bank branch open.If you have access to internet banking please stay at home.This will leave the physical spaces and phone lines clear for customers that need them the most.

Coronavirus update - 17th March

Right now, people in our community are struggling. From pensioners who have been told to self-isolate to small business owners who are facing the prospect of closing up shop.   Covid-19 has had an impact on every aspect of our lives.   We are not only fearful about the health of our loved ones but also whether our friends and families will be able to put food on the table during this crisis.   The seriousness of this outbreak cannot be played down. It demands a response that understands the devastating effect Coronavirus has already had on households and businesses from our community.From the outbreak of this virus in Wuhan, China, I have been holding this Government to account on its plans to control the transmission and impact of Covid-19. This includes, pushing for more funding into NHS frontline services and care provision, querying the readiness of local authorities across the UK to respond to an outbreak and questioning the adequacy of screening measures in UK airports and international rail and ferry terminals. Please click this link to see what other questions I have asked in Parliament:   I will continue to hold our Government to account on their management of this crisis.   Self-employed and freelance workers, support staff who are unable to work from home, small businesses owners and those on zero-hours contracts need to know that there is a support system in place that will help them get through the next week, let alone the coming few months.   Those working in retail, hospitality and construction are facing huge uncertainty about whether they will have a job tomorrow.   We need a temporary universal basic income to help people whose jobs and incomes are at risk get through this outbreak. I have already signed an early day motion to support this measure, which could make a huge difference to the lives of people who are unsure of whether they will have a paycheck next month.   The Government have announced that they will make £330billion available in lending to keep firms in business as well as extending the business interruption loan scheme, offering loans of up to £5million. I welcome these commitments and will find out the details of these loans and pass them onto local businesses as quickly as I can.   More needs to be done to support small and medium sized firms who are under pressure right now. The proposed Government actions, including grant worth £10,000 to the smallest firms, are an important start to helping the businesses that are the backbone of our local economy.   I know how hopeless this situation sounds but please know that everyone, from the NHS frontline workers to the local council are doing their best to limit the impact and spread of Covid-19.   Out of all of this fear and anxiety we have seen a huge outpouring of kindness from our neighbours. Facebook groups have been set up to help the elderly and vulnerable in our community, from collecting shopping to simply checking in. It makes me very proud to live in Barnsley.   I have been in close contact with Public Health England and Barnsley Council and will continue to monitor this situation closely.   My staff and I are working around the clock to make sure our community has the resources and systems in place to respond to this outbreak.   I will keep updating my website, Facebook and Twitter pages with advice and information from the Government, national and local organisations and charities. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office on 01226743483 if you have any questions or queries that I can help you with.

Coronavirus update - 10th March

I recently attended a briefing with the Chief Medical Officer and have raised various issues regarding the Coronavirus in Parliament. I also spoke to the director of Public Health at Barnsley Council and will continue to be in close contact with them and Barnsley Hospital.Following the confirmation of positive cases of Covid-19 in Barnsley, I would like to send my best wishes to the individuals and their family. Public Health England are monitoring the situation.The risk of infection is still low. But following simple advice like washing hands regularly and contacting 111 if you feel unwell can help protect you and your family. Click here for advice on how to avoid the virus.