Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

South London Press Column - 24.05.2013

One of the most important things I do in my role as MP for Camberwell and Peckham is helping people with their individual problems and I have a small and dedicated staff to assist me.

People send me emails and letters, and I also hold three advice surgeries a month at ‘Clubland’ at Walworth Methodist Church where people can come and discuss their problems. Since January, I have helped almost 1,700 people and last year I assisted over 5,000.

Most often people approach me with their problems about housing, immigration status and benefits but people come to me for help with a wide range of other issues. Here are a just a few examples:

-A woman who had been the victim of a violent rape got in touch with me because she was concerned that the perpetrator was about to be released only months after he was sentenced. I made a request to the Attorney General that his sentence be referred to the Court of Appeal and it was increased to an indefinite sentence with a minimum further three years before he would be eligible for parole.

-An elderly man from Camberwell got in touch with me because he couldn’t get his bathroom adapted for his 76 year old disabled wife. They had submitted an application to the council but had not heard back for three months. In the meantime, he was struggling to lift her in and out of the bath and feared that they might fall and injure themselves. I pursued this with the council who completed the bathroom adaptations but also agreed to change the process to prevent such a serious delays happening again.

-A 26 year old student from Peckham who was suffering from kidney failure and having to undergo dialysis for eight hours a day contacted me because she needed a transplant but was told she would have to wait five years for a donor. Her mother in Pakistan underwent tests and was found to be a suitable donor. She applied for a visa to visit the UK for the operation to be carried out but her visa application was refused. She appealed and won but no time was set for when the visa would be issued and meanwhile my constituent was continuing to suffer. I contacted the Home Office to press them to expedite the visa. They agreed and the mother is now able to come to the UK to donate her kidney and help save her daughter’s life and end the worry of the waiting.

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