Last week was Armed Forces Week where we paid tribute and thanks to our serving forces and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country.
I was shocked to learn that there are around 6,200 people living in absolute poverty from Commonwealth or former Commonwealth countries who served in the British Armed Forces prior to their countries gaining independence.
In 2018, the government committed to providing veterans of the Commonwealth who served in the British Armed Forces living in poverty with two meals a day through UK aid.
This programme would not have been possible if it were not for UK aid, which is a vital tool in protecting some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people when they need our support most.
Despite this commitment, this week I uncovered that in the last year, around 500 veterans living in extreme poverty have not been given this support from the government.
It’s a scandal and a stain on our nation that members of our armed forces are living in extreme poverty and without support from the UK government. We owe so much to those who have risked their lives for our country, and it’s heart-breaking that the government has failed hundreds of British Army veterans by not providing them with such basic support.
Two meals a day is the very least our veterans deserve from this government. This government must step up now to protect our veterans and their families and provide them with the support they so desperately need.
This abandonment of hundreds of those who have fought for our country is sad reminder that this government has failed to respect the incredible service of our armed forces and has failed to provide veterans the proper standard of civilian life they have earned.
Government needs to do more to tackle fuel poverty
This week, the government's regulator for gas and electricity markets, Ofgem, announced proposals to strengthen support for energy prepayment customers and those struggling to pay their energy bills.
At the beginning of this year, I launched a campaign calling on British Gas to reverse their decision to increase the minimum top-up amount for customers on pay-as-you-go tariffs. With the help of over 90,000 people, we were successful in getting British Gas to reverse their decision which would have hit their most vulnerable customers hardest.
As I told the i paper this week, that's why I welcome Ofgem's proposals, because for too long we have relied on the goodwill of energy companies to do the right thing for vulnerable people who are forced to make the impossible choice between spending their last £5 before payday on heating their home, or putting food on the table.
But much more needs to be done by this government to tackle the fuel poverty crisis and ensure that no one has to choose between heating their home and eating.
I have always been a firm believer in the role that faith can play in giving strength at times of weakness, hope in times of despair, and a clear path when we feel lost. We can draw inspiration from faith in a time of crisis, like the global coronavirus pandemic we are currently faced with.
I reflected on the role faith has played in my life and during lockdown for BBC Sounds. You can listen to my recording below.
This week, I joined Co-op Party colleagues in writing to Nestle to ask them to reconsider their decision to drop Fairtrade produce from KitKat products. Join me and over 20,000 others in asking Nestle not to 'take a break' from Fairtrade.