Erith & Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare has has been jointly named newcomer MP of the year for her work in championing disadvantaged communities.
Oppong-Asare accepted the prize this evening from the Patchwork Foundation, which works to help young people from under-represented and minority backgrounds take part in British society.
The award comes just under a year after the Labour politician succeeded Teresa Pearce as the MP for Erith & Thamesmead at December 2019’s general election. Before that she spent four years as a Bexley councillor, standing down in 2018.
In May she spoke up for Sikhs who want their ethnicity to be recognised in the census, while in the summer holidays she launched an education programme to help students prepare for their return to school in September after the lockdown closure. Last month she spoke up in Parliament for tenants illegally threatened with eviction during the second lockdown and lent her voice to the campaign against the Silvertown Tunnel. She was named shadow exchequer secretary in October.
Luke Evans, the Conservative MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire, was the other winner of the award. Chancellor Rishi Sunak was the Conservative MP of the year, while Brent Central MP Dawn Butler won the Labour prize. Birmingham Edgbaston MP and shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill won the overall MP of the year prize.
One of our two Overall Newcomer MPs of the Year is @abenaopp of @UKLabour for her inspirational work to combat discrimination in media and society, and with students in her constituency throughout the pandemic! #MPoftheYearAwards #GetInvolved pic.twitter.com/OFOnHWWFqM
— Patchwork Foundation (@UKPatchwork) December 2, 2020
Oppong-Asare said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded the Newcomer MP of the Year Award. This has been an extraordinary time to enter Parliament but I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to represent Erith and Thamesmead during these unprecedented times. The hardship people have faced during Covid-19 has been evident and the work to represent my constituents who are being left behind will continue far into the future.
“However, I have not represented my constituents alone – I have done so alongside my fantastic team, community organisations, faith groups, teachers, NHS and care workers and many passionate and caring individuals. There are many obstacles we must tackle as a community and as a country and I am confident that over the next few years I will be able to work alongside my fantastic colleagues and constituents to create positive changes.”
John Pienaar, the broadcaster and board member of the Patchwork Foundation, hosted a virtual event this evening with all three winners. He said: “2020 has been a unique, defining year. We’ve discovered new levels of empathy with one another at the toughest time our country’s experienced in peacetime. It showed in many, many ways, such as the excellent NHS volunteer scheme which saw hundreds of thousands of us put our hands up and help out.
“There was the phenomenal show of solidarity with the black members of our community; and each day we routinely place a face mask across our noses and mouths to protect others. The Patchwork Foundation embodies the same spirit, and it’s a feeling shared among our MPs whose work and support is as vital as their role in policy-making as we move forward.”
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