Our capacity to vaccinate is rapidly expanding

Julia Lopez, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster

Julia Lopez has been learning about St Francis Hospice's new virtual bereavement counselling service - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

Too many of us have lost someone over this past year. Grief is never an easy emotion to navigate, but it is a particular challenge when we cannot rely on our normal support networks.

This week, I was glad to catch up with the team at St Francis Hospice to talk about their experiences of the pandemic. But I also wanted to learn more about their new virtual bereavement counselling service which helps residents who have lost a loved one to Covid to acknowledge the death and work through their grief.

The urge to march on through feelings of loss and pain is understandable, but if you find you are struggling and need support, please contact the team on 01708 753319 or email: bereavementcounselling@sfh.org.uk   

I have been speaking weekly to our local NHS teams to troubleshoot issues when they arise and share critical information with residents while the vaccine rollout gets under way. With ExCeL opening as a mass vaccination hub alongside roving teams and hospital, pharmacy and GP hubs, our capacity to vaccinate is rapidly expanding and we hope to offer a first dose to all the top four priority groups by mid-February.

Finally, I was proud to be a ministerial sponsor of the EU (Future Relationship) Bill which passed into law over the Christmas break, cementing the new trade deal between the EU and UK.

I am now working with ministers across government to see what we can do differently and better now that we have left the EU. ​One of those things is regional development and we are examining how freeports might create new jobs, skills and opportunities.

Government will be considering a proposal that has been put forward by Tilbury, London Gateway and Ford in Dagenham that would look to generate jobs across north east London and Essex.