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We are in a different stretch of the river when it comes to the pandemic now most Covid restrictions have ended. 
In this first week of Step 4, the media is making much of whether to wear a facemask or not but I actually think all this will soon settle down. 
We are essentially a tolerant nation and we will respect each other’s point of view. Like others, I will wear a facemask when I think it is appropriate or when someone asks me to. I hope everyone will be the same. 
I would also urge everyone to have regular tests. A testing kit is free from a pharmacy or you can order online. Washing hands was very prominent at the start of Covid. It is still a vital part of keeping infections down. These are the simple common-sense steps the Prime Minister was talking about. It is about personal responsibility, not a never-ending government diktat. 
But the biggest responsibility is getting a vaccine. Figures show 60% of people being admitted to hospital with Covid are unvaccinated. This is a big number when you consider two thirds of the population have had two doses of the vaccines, even when taking into account vaccines are never 100% effective. 
The 20-30 age range is now getting the virus but jab take up is lower in this age cohort. Please grab a jab if you are this age. It will help protect you, protect others, leave the virus with fewer people to cause serious problems to and it will protect the NHS. 
A second high profile media story this week focuses on migrants taking the dangerous trip across the English Channel.  This continues to be a serious problem with a record number doing so this year.  We’ve experienced this locally before, at Sovereign Harbour.  
The recent good weather has made it easier but lives are still put at risk. I am angry that human traffickers prey on these souls and rake in a fortune from this illicit and illegal trade.  Then there’s the dinghies we don’t intercept.  Not picked up by the authorities, these people disappear, too often picked up criminal gangs on this side of the Channel and could be lost to a life of slavery.   
The Nationality and Borders Bill, designed to tackle the problem and reform the UK’s immigration system, had its second reading in parliament this week and it includes proposals designed to disincentivize this illegal route undertaken largely by those with the financial means and the physical strength to make for our shores in this way.    
What the Government will continue to do is to bring those who need our protection directly from those places of concern. Over the last six years, the UK has directly resettled 25,000 people from places of danger.  

I was delighted to help reunite an Eastbourne family when an American dad-to-be could not get a UK visa just as his pregnant British wife was due to give birth.
Ben Jones was stranded in Washington DC last month while his wife Kirsty Hastings-Jones was in Eastbourne just days away from being a mum.
Kirsty’s mother Catherine Gilling contacted my office desperate to ensure Ben, who had applied for the visa back in March, could come to the UK. I was initially told by the Home Office it would be a further 20 days before it would be even looked at. A decision might have been months away.
To speed things up, I  spoke personally to Home Office minister Kevin Foster on 15th June and Ben’s visa was issued 48 hours later, just as Kirsty was about to give birth.
Ivy Violet was born weighing in at 6lbs 5 oz in the early hours with a tearful Dad on FaceTime. He was then able to get a flight to the UK to be with his daughter and wife.
The couple are now home in Meads with Ivy Violet and building their life together in the UK. I have to say that when news came through of the birth of Ivy Violet and the visa, my heart soared because I knew what it meant to this lovely family.
I am really, really pleased I could do my small bit to make sure a dad got to hold his newborn daughter and a family was reunited.  A thank you should also go to Kevin Foster, who pulled out the stops, and even took the time to send his congratulations via me to the new parents.
On Saturday, I was able to meet up with them all, including Catherine at Café 32 in South Street to say hello. It was lovely to hear how they have been getting on and to see the new born baby. It’s been a tough year and a half for everyone because of the pandemic but this is a good news story and to be able to meet the family was a real joy.

It is a pleasure to share, above, a photo of the happy family. 

In the run up to recess this week, I asked two key questions in the Chamber. In Northern Ireland Questions, I raised the benefit of maintaining the current, very competitive VAT rate for hospitality beyond the pandemic and in Church Commissioner Questions, I highlighted the importance of singing. As I said in the Chamber – this Sunday there will be joy!
The Nationality and Borders Bill, and the Building Safety Bill were debated in the Chamber. Also, the Government published a new cross-Government Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, and the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for the Home Department made a statement on this strategy in parliament too.
I welcome the publication of the tackling violence against women and girls strategy to ensure women and girls are safe everywhere - at home, online and on the streets. The strategy will increase support for victims and survivors, increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice and to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the long-term.
I also participated in a briefing call with the Minster for Disabled People, Health and Work about the publication of the Health and Disability Green Paper and Health is Everyone’s Business Consultation Response. I used this opportunity to raise a number of key points, and I would really encourage people to contribute to the Green Paper consultation!

On Wednesday this week, I visited Oakwood Primary Acadamy to officially open their new school library designed to support Oakwood’s ambitious plans to help every child become a fluent reader while at the same time helping instil within them a love of reading that will last a lifetime.

During my visit, I had a fantastic tour of the school, curtesy of Max and Julia in Year 6. I visited all of the classrooms and was so  impressed with the learning and to see the number of children who had read a million words this year.

After the tour I had the honour of cutting the golden ribbon to officially open the new library, to see the new  design and the hundreds of new books purchased for the children to enjoy. These books have been carefully selected not only to match children’s reading abilities but to also further extend their reading.  Thank you to Head of School Ryan Laker  for the invitation which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Where to pick them up and how to do the test.

Our vaccination programme is rightly a big driver in getting back to normality but so is testing and we need to make it as normal as brushing our teeth to protect our progress against the virus and community transmission. 

Recent openings will inevitably mean more cases, but free testing for those without symptoms is an important new line of defence to protect our recovery.  I’ve clocked in my first TEST.  It was pretty easy and good to see a negative result when so many can have the virus without symptoms.  You still have to keep the usual safety measures but it felt good to step out knowing.

✅ Testing will help us
✅ Keep on the roadmap to freedom👣
✅ Stop the spread
✅ Protect the NHS 💙

TESTS: Now available free to all without symptoms and you can do 🏠 at home, order online or collect locally.

You can get a pack of 7 tests sent to your home. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK
If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone.

The video below explains how to do the test.

How to do a COVID-19 Self Test (rapid antigen test)

Community Collect Site

Fort Fun Princes Park Car Park, Royal Parade, BN22 7LQ site is operating as a test site for symptomatic testing  but only in the mornings.  In the afternoons 2:30pm – 8:00pm, following a clean down, it is operating as a Community Collect site for people to collect home test kits and supports the Government statements on providing universal asymptomatic testing.

Eastbourne Pharmacies

✅ A.E. Pharma Limited, 11 Grand Hotel Buildings, Compton Street, BN21 4EJ - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ A & S Shillam Limited, 82 Seaside,  BN22 7QP - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Asda, Crumbles Harbour Village, BN23 6JH - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Boots, Princes Park Health Ctr, Wartling Road, BN22 7PG - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Day Lewis, 2 Furness Road, BN21 4EY - Test site for people with no symptoms - a booking is required

✅ Day Lewis, 10 Freshwater Square, BN22 0PS - Test site for people with no symptoms - a booking is required

✅ Osbon Medicals Limited, 116-118 Cavendish Place,  BN21 3TZ - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Tesco Stores, Lottbridge Drove, BN23 6QD - Pick up site - for at home test kits

Vaccination Information
How & Where to get a Test
Community Help & Support
Free Transport for Covid-19 Vaccinations
Vaccination Scam Information
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Support for Businesses
Test & Trace Support Payment

Below is from the Government website:

The Government has decided to move to step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July, a new phase of continued caution whilst managing the risks of COVID-19. This follows a four week pause, announced on 14 June, which as of 10 July has allowed an additional 7 million (3.5 million first and almost 3.6 million second) vaccination doses to be given. Every adult is expected to be offered a first dose, and two-thirds of adults a second dose, by 19 July.

The pandemic is not over. Cases are increasing rapidly and a third wave is underway. Step 4 does not mark the end of the need for caution and restraint. At step 4, while many of the legal restrictions that the Government has imposed through the pandemic will be lifted, cautious guidance will remain, making it clear this is not yet a return to normal. While cases are high and rising, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. We will continue to manage the virus and provide guidance over the coming months.

While there is no perfect time to relax existing restrictions, moving to step 4 on 19 July means relaxations coincide with the end of the school term and take place over the summer when more activities can take place outdoors and pressures on the NHS are less than in the autumn and winter months.

The success of the vaccination rollout has paved the way for the safe and gradual lifting of restrictions. No vaccine, however, is 100% effective and, like all viruses, COVID-19 can mutate. As further restrictions are lifted, there will sadly be more cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

Key protections

That is why we are keeping in place key protections:

  • testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
  • isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace or when advised to by the NHS COVID-19 app.
  • border quarantine: for all arriving from red list countries, and for those people arriving from amber list countries, other than those UK residents fully vaccinated in the UK vaccine programme.
  • cautious guidance for individuals, businesses and the vulnerable whilst prevalence is high including:
    • whilst Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer;
    • Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport;
    • being outside or letting fresh air in; and
    • minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
  • encouraging and supporting businesses and large events to use the NHS COVID Pass in high risk settings to help to limit the risk of infection. The Government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass. If sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government will consider mandating the NHS COVID Pass in certain venues at a later date.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Hammond at his flat in Hampden Park to celebrate his fund raising achievement.

Inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, Robert decided to do his own walk for charity. Although born with cerebral palsy, and confined to a wheelchair, he set himself the challenge to walk 200 laps of his block using his rollator. Robert started his walking on April 11 and kept a diary of how many laps each day. He continued for 106 consecutive days and by July 16th he completed his challenge  and had raised £1,400 for the South East Air Ambulance.

I was delighted to be there to congratulate him and his support team, together with a representative from the South East Air Ambulance and to present him with a small trophy in recognition of his achievement. 

He told me there is more fund raising to come!

On Friday I was invited to an event run by Keral Social Club in order to  give a donation from money they have raised, to local charity, Embrace.

Keral  Social Club is run by a group of families  in Eastbourne. All members are originally from India, but have lived and worked in Eastbourne for a long time. Prior to the pandemic they would meet weekly and run Malayalam language classes and activities for the children.

To open the evening  the youngsters performed some wonderful traditional dancing. Thank you to Secretary, Shankar Nair for the invitation and such a warm and colourful welcome from your community.

Last Friday I went to the Scope Charity Shop in Seaside Road to meet  Area Manager Gemma Buick  and staff, after Shop Manager, Emma Andrews, invited me to drop in.

Scope carries out important work, supporting disabled people and their families, across the country. I am incredibly proud to support the charity’s mission to achieve everyday equality for disabled people and support disabled people into the workplace. I really enjoyed spending time in the Eastbourne Shop. It was an excellent opportunity to see for myself the fantastic work.

Scope charity shops provide a chance for people to volunteer and offers the chance to gain National Vocational qualifications (NVQs). Volunteering teaches new skills and develops existing ones, while gaining valuable work experience. This looks good on a CV and is one of the reasons why potential bosses and colleges have so much respect for people who have volunteering roles on their CV. Volunteering is also a fun way to get out of the house, make friends, meet people and can help to build your confidence.

Volunteers are the lifeline at the Scope charity shops and duties range from sorting and steam cleaning bags of donated stock and making sure the shop floor is running smoothly. Other duties include helping customers find bargains amongst the clothes, accessories, books, CDs and DVDs on sale.

I would encourage anyone who has a few extra hours to spare, each week to consider volunteering in the Eastbourne shop. To find out more about volunteering, you can visit the shop on Seaside Road or go to the scope website at

And finally...

Yesterday saw me meet a couple of young entrepreneurs, pay a visit to Old Town Community Library and open the new premises for The Wayfinder Woman Hub.  Today I have the pleasure of attending Meads Village Allotment open day and a 24 hour croquet marathon. More about these events next week.

Parliament went into recess on Thursday and I will get to work from Eastbourne until the House returns in September. I’ll be holding surgeries and be out and about. Please do say hello! 


Have a good day, take care and with my best,


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Caroline Ansell MP · Eastbourne Town Hall · Grove Road · EASTBOURNE, EAST SUSSEX BN21 4TX · United Kingdom