Having grown up in Enfield Southgate, where house prices and the cost of rent are rising rapidly, and as a former housing lawyer, housing is an important issue for me.
As your local MP I will be campaigning for:
Building quality affordable and social housing in Enfield Southgate.
Helping young people onto the housing ladder in an era of rapidly rising house prices.
Supporting homeless people and reducing rough sleeping in Enfield Southgate.
Debate on Temporary Accommodation
– in the House of Commons on 7th November 2017
"Is my hon. Friend aware that there are 3,311 households in temporary accommodation in my borough, Enfield, which is the second highest figure in the country? One solution we have tried in Enfield is to set up a housing gateway organisation to buy stock, but that is only a temporary solution. Does she agree that the best solution is to build more council housing?"
Debate on Supported Housing
Social Care – in the House of Commons on 25th October 2017
"While I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that the local housing allowance cap will be lifted, I fear that the damage has already been done to supported housing providers, including women’s refuges.
I echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips): housing benefit is vital to women’s refuges. As non-profit organisations, they rely on the rental income from the women who stay with them to fund their services. However, LHA is set in line with the lowest 30% of market rents in a given area, and the rates will often not even meet the refuge’s rent charges, let alone provide the additional funds needed to maintain specialist emergency accommodation. The capping of LHA led to uncertainty and fear for women’s refuges, which are designed specifically to keep women safe and to offer them shelter and support until they can live independently without the threat of violence.
This morning, I spoke to Mary Mason of Solace Women’s Aid, which is a fantastic organisation that runs a women’s refuge in my constituency and in other areas of London. She told me that women seeking help in the refuge she runs face the most appalling danger and have been forced into homelessness. She further told me that any decrease in funding, including through the LHA cap, would have a very negative impact on women and children in danger. It was therefore entirely inappropriate that services like the Solace women’s refuge should have been subject to the LHA cap.
While I welcome today’s announcement from the Prime Minister about the lifting of the LHA cap, I await the detail next week and hope that all vulnerable people in supported housing receive the funding they so desperately need."
Debate on Housing and Social Security
– in the House of Commons on 22nd June 2017
"Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make my maiden speech today, Mr Speaker. I start by paying tribute to my predecessor, David Burrowes. He dedicated more than 23 years to public service, first as a councillor and then as an MP, showing his commitment and affection for the area. I wish him well in the future.
I also pay tribute to our emergency services, across London and the UK. The recent terror attacks have been abhorrent and terrifying, but our emergency services have responded each and every time with the utmost courage and professionalism. For this they deserve both our praise and gratitude, as they do for their response to the awful tragedy at Grenfell Tower in Kensington. All London grieves deeply for the family and friends of those who sadly lost their lives. I join in thanking and praising the brave people from our emergency services in London who once again ran towards danger.
I am of Cypriot heritage. My parents came here from Cyprus, and English was not my first language, but we made a home in London, and we were welcomed with tolerance and warmth. That is what allowed me to be here today in Parliament to give my maiden speech as the proud new MP for Enfield, Southgate. That is the same welcome that the people of Enfield, Southgate extend to everybody from other nations who lives, works and studies locally. I am proud of our diverse, tolerant and inclusive community, which brings out the best in people. It is precious to us all in Enfield, Southgate in these difficult times, or in any times. We will not allow the preachers of hate to drive a wedge between our community.
Along with the majority of my constituents, I voted to remain in the European Union. I believe, as they do, that we are better off working together, and I believe that people from countries across the European Union should be allowed to live, work and study in London. I wish the result had been different, but we must now face the reality, and I will do all I can to campaign for the best deal we can get.
We are very proud of our local history and institutions in Enfield, Southgate. We are lucky to have the Chickenshed theatre, set up by Jo Collins and Mary Ward, with the assistance of John Bull, which has been running for more than 40 years. What a success story. It leads the field in breaking down barriers, promoting diversity and tackling discrimination. Chickenshed has given many young people hope, a fantastic experience and the confidence that they can succeed irrespective of background, ethnicity, or disability.
Many people know the Piccadilly line in London, with its iconic art deco stations at Arnos Grove, Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters in my constituency. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Holden, they were built in the early 1930s, and these transport links, along with the Great Northern rail line joining Bowes Park, Palmers Green, Winchmore Hill and Grange Park, led to the subsequent housing boom that made Enfield, Southgate the place it is today—the place I am beyond proud to represent, here in the mother of all Parliaments.
Those transport links were one reason why many people flocked to Enfield in the 1930s; later, in 1971, when I was just three years old, my parents made Southgate their home. At school in Enfield, encouraged by some incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable teachers, I developed a love for reading that has stayed with me. Enfield, Southgate has been fortunate in having a connection to a string of literary figures, including Sir John Betjeman, Thomas Hood, Leigh Hunt, Jerome K. Jerome and, of course, Stevie Smith. However, contrary to what I told my teachers, I do not admit to having read them all.
Education is the cornerstone of success in life. It plays a key part in breaking down inequalities and promoting tolerance and understanding, but unless we invest in our schools and our children, those aims will be lost. We have some fine schools in Enfield, Southgate, including both St Michael at Bowes Church of England Junior School and Eversley Primary School, for both of which I am a governor, and Hazelwood Primary School. However, the majority of our schools face Government funding cuts that will harm the prospects of many young people in my constituency. All children get only one chance to have a decent education. I was lucky enough to get that opportunity and I seized it. I want the same chances for our young people, which is why I will challenge the cuts to education funding and champion a properly funded education system.
Enfield, Southgate also has a place in suffragette history. When Hazelwood Primary School opened in 1908, its first headmistress was Laura Goulden, the sister-in-law of Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union. It is no coincidence, then, that between 1910 and 1913 there was a well-established and active local suffragette movement that gathered at the famous Palmers Green triangle. I am proud that the people of Enfield, Southgate played their part in supporting votes for women—but votes are not enough. We still have huge inequality, women still earn less than men, and in Enfield, Southgate, just as elsewhere, women have borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity agenda. I will do my utmost to push for fair and equal pay and a decent living wage for everyone.
Inequality is also increasingly prevalent in our health services. It was a body blow for our area when Chase Farm hospital’s accident and emergency unit closed. Since then, mounting pressure on North Middlesex hospital’s A&E unit is pushing it to breaking point. This cannot go on. The people of Enfield, Southgate deserve better. I will not sit back and allow our precious NHS to be destroyed. It needs a massive tonic, and it needs it now.
I am here because my constituents have put their faith in me. They know I am one of them. I grew up among them, I live among them and I will not let them down."