It takes a village

In which Vicki Sigston looks at how much support exists for families in Medway in those vital early years..

Did you know that May 15th was the International Day of Families? It was first celebrated in 1994 by the United Nations who wanted the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the importance of families, communities and societies around the world.

As an antenatal practitioner I have been lucky enough to be a tiny part of the journey into parenthood for hundreds of families. It is a real privilege to watch them traverse the magical, and often tricky path that comes when extending a family unit.

As a society though, I think we are letting families down.

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Medway’s Mental Health Matters

13th to 19th May was Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental health, we all have it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes, unfortunately, it’s not so good. It’s certainly a buzzword at the moment thanks to more people speaking openly about it, including celebrities and royals. I think we can all agree, whether you struggle with yours or not, that more awareness and more support can only be a good thing.

If you Google ‘Medway Mental Health Awareness 2019’, you get an old result from 2014 and pretty generic, outdated mental health information. It seems Medway isn’t doing too much this year in terms of events, which is both unsurprising but also sad, considering Medway has some of the highest mental health need in Kent. 

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Huguenot or Huguewilling

In which Chris Sams remembers when Rochester once accepted religious refugees from a hostile country with open arms, yet at the same time treated them with the suspicions and xenophobia..

In the sixteenth century Europe was rocked by a religious ‘schism’ which was started by the German monk Martin Luther and the English King Henry VIII. This of course was the rise of Protestantism and the separation from the Catholic Church. This has caused ruptures in different countries for hundreds of years, which we are still feeling the after effects now, especially in Northern Ireland. It was only recently that an age old law banning Catholics from being Prime Minister was lifted.

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Brexit must mean exit

Ahead of the European elections, we asked representatives from the major parties to submit an article making the case for their party. Today, former Medway UKIP group leader Roy Freshwater puts forward the argument for his party..

Mrs. May’s Withdrawal Agreement (treaty) is a complete betrayal of the referendum decision. 88,997 Medway residents voted on the 23rd June 2016 to leave the EU and take back control of our money, our laws and our borders. The government made up of ‘remainers’ and mostly elitist MPs after three years has presented us with a ‘Not Really Leaving the EU Withdrawal Agreement’. It will not satisfy leavers or remainers, and cost many millions in payments to the EU that should be spent on improving the lives of British communities and Medway communities. Its intention is to make it possible to reverse the referendum decision or, if it is implemented, to pave the way for re-entry to the EU in a few years’ time.

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Being Green

In which Steve Dyke tells us what our Green MEP has been up to in the European Parliament..

Thanks in part to the fairer voting system of proportional representation, since 1999 the Medway Towns have had the good fortune to be represented by a Green Party Member of the European Parliament (‘MEP’). This is as part of the South East England constituency and our elected members have been Caroline Lucas and, since she became an MP at Westminster, Keith Taylor. Keith is retiring at the imminent unplanned election but I am confident that there will be continue to be a Green representative for the South East after May 23rd (Alex Phillips, a Green councillor from Brighton & Hove is our lead candidate). There are also Green MEPs currently representing London and the South West.

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A Lib Dem view on a Labour Launch

In which Jasneet Samrai of the Liberal Democrats offers her view of Labour’s Medway manifesto launch and makes the case for her party ahead of the European elections..

Jeremy Corbyn launched his manifesto here. But Medway should ‘Demand Better.’

On Thursday, Corbyn launched the Labour manifesto for the Euro Elections on the University of Kent campus. But Medway deserves better than this. We should therefore demand it.

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Redoubts

In which local historian Chris Sams digs into the past and ponders what we should be seeking to preserve..

It is a sad fact of life that you cannot save everything from your past. In 2007 my grandfather passed away and it was with heavy heart that I took responsibility for clearing out his house. It was not an easy task with a lot of the objects holding some sort of sentimental attachment or just that it had been Pop’s. The end result was that in 2016 when I moved house (from his old house to my current address) I found myself packing a lot of stuff that was Pop’s and I had to be brutal with what came with us and what was going to have to be discarded. By contrast when my other grandfather died in 2014 my Mother cleared the house and the majority of the belongings were discarded save for a few keep sakes.

The same is true for heritage sites and local authorities.

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Voice of the Leader: April

Once a month we are offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics. Today we hear from Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group.

Alan Jarrett

‘Going forward I promise that we will protect Medway from those who seek to close down facilities and services; against those who belittle Medway and its hard-working people; and against those who snub our military heritage and insult our monarchy.’

The place to start this month is surely Brexit (scream!). Between them our national politicians have brought shame on an ancient profession, by their collective refusal to honour the will of the people – in Medway 63% voted to leave.

That wasn’t to nearly leave; or sort of leave; or be asked to vote again on what was supposed to be a once in a generation vote. THAT WAS TO LEAVE!

I admit that my own party has not covered itself in glory, and the negotiations to leave have been very poorly handled. But when it comes to it the political game-playing by the Labour Party in parliament is the reason we are in yet another extension, and the reason we look almost certain to have to endure the charade of European elections!

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Autism in Medway – Awareness and Acceptance

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the state of autism support in Medway..

I was asked by the Political Medway team to write a piece in honour of Autism Awareness Month which runs throughout April.

I must admit that at first I was a bit stuck with how to approach this. I have some knowledge of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) but I felt a bit disingenuous as I started to write my piece. The main reason for this is that I have no personal experience of accessing autism services and support. The very first post I wrote for the Political Medway was about period poverty, and quite right that the two male owners of the page ask a woman to write about that – so I didn’t feel I should write about this.

But while talking to friends who do have personal experience someone suggested that what might be great would be to ask some questions of those families in “the system”. Those families where there are formal diagnoses of ASD and who have used, or try to use the support in the local area.

So, thanks to the genius survey creating tool that is Survey Monkey, I put together a very short questionnaire and put out a plea on social media for people in Medway who have personal knowledge of local support to respond.

I was amazed, in a couple of days I had almost 50 responses, plus many direct messages too. Those who responded did so very openly and passionately. The questions had obviously stirred up some feelings and as I read through the responses I started to understand why. 

Medway does not get ASD support right. Hardly ever it seems.

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The giant pachyderm in the council chamber

In which we ask Steve Dyke to give us the green view, so he offers us a terrifying vision of our climate future..

‘Brexit’ seems to have dominated the news for years, so some may have forgotten that last October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report on the impacts if ‘global warming’ raises the Earth’s temperature by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. At the current rate of increase this temperature will be reached sometime between 2030 and 2052 – and then continue to rise.  Please do not be deceived by phrase ‘global warming’, which suggests something pleasant and harmless, because in reality we are in a state of climate emergency and seem headed inexorably towards a climate breakdown.

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