This will be a slightly different MP update from usual because I've just spent the past two weeks teaching English in Rwanda. I got back on Sunday and have been catching up with constituents who have been in touch and local issues, so read on for what I've been up to this week plus what it was like in Rwanda.
VSO Trip to Rwanda
I spent two weeks in the Eastern Province of Rwanda working with Rwandan teachers who teach English to primary school children. In my UK group we were 11 teachers, and were split between two local schools. Teachers from across the local district were there and I had around 60 teachers that I spent the fortnight with. Our area was an hour outside Kigali but really out in the middle of lots of banana plantations, so a world away from London. I didn't see any papers or news for a week, so I was totally focused on the teaching. We'd all had training before going to Rwanda, and a lot of our help was not just with pronounciation and grammar but also teaching games and songs that can help children learn, for example, I Spy (nouns), and Simon Says (parts of the body) to name just a couple. We taught for 6 hours a day and I think by the end of the fortnight we all felt we'd really accomplished something - the Rwandan teachers were great to work with and said they very much valued what we'd done. I also did my best to learn Kiryarwanda, the Rwandan language, which they all found very entertaining!
If you've ever thought of taking some time out to do a development project, then take a look at the VSO website, www.vso.org.uk and you never know what it might lead to. I wasn't sure what to expect when I headed off to Rwanda but though it was really hard work, I had an amazing experience and learnt a lot, so I'd definitely recommend it.
Polyclinics and Putney Hospital Update
This week I met Ann Radmore, the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) to talk through a number of local healthcare issues. We discussed local concerns about the introduction of polyclinics across London, including our area. A number of residents have contacted me or come to my surgery concerned about what the polyclinic proposals will mean for our community. I share those concerns that we could face change forced on us from Whitehall, when instead it should be our own community working with our own PCT which is best placed to know what GP provision we want and where. The plans are at very early stages, so I will be taking a very close interest in them as they develop and letting residents know what they'll mean for us with our GP provision. Ann Radmore and I also talked about the re-development of Putney Hospital which is now expected to commence next year, with the demolition of the existing building planned for later this year. Putney Hospital has been derelict for a decade and so its long overdue to now get that site back delivering local healthcare services again.
Local Ambulance Cover
Putney SW15 readers may have seen in my last MP update that there had been concerns locally about understaffing of local ambulance services. Earlier this week, I had chance to meet up with London Ambulance Service (LAS) at their headquarters in Waterloo and we were able to discuss the problems we experienced locally. Resources were badly stretched over Wimbledon fortnight. I was reassured by LAS that the support from other areas, and specially designated floating staff helped to ensure we were not at risk in terms of response times. However it is clear that their resources were stretched to their limit in making sure we had cover. I'll be going out on a shift with an ambulance crew with them at some point in the next couple of months to see for myself how they provide our service locally and I'll be kept updated of any further resourcing problems.
Don't forget if you need my help as MP, just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA to get in touch. You can also come along to one of my weekly MP surgeries - just give me a call on 0208 944 0378 to find out where the next one is, and I'll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP