“To be frank, I feel guilty at not being able to give the children as much time as I would have wanted alongside the pressures of the job.”
Jonathan Reynolds is a husband and dad. He’s also the member of parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde in the UK. He recorded his postcard on 28 May.
Juggling full time work, homeschooling and your children’s welfare during the pandemic is stressful for any parent. Jonathan is also Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a brief he took on during the lockdown period.
This has led to a manic pace of increased constituency casework and scrutinising the governments response to the increasingly precarious employment landscape.
In this postcard, he talks about that juggling act and the uncertainty that lies ahead.
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Jonathan has been an MP for ten years and he’s held shadow roles covering energy and climate change, education, the treasury and now the DWP. He’s Vice-Chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism.
Jonathan refers to the return of parliament to London from 2 June which has drawn much criticism. It will particularly affect those with caring responsibilities (mainly women), vulnerable MPs and staff who have been shielding from Coronavirus. The new online voting and participatory systems will cease to operate.
The UK government is at a crossroads; it is keen to return to a semblance of normality but it struggles to suppress the COVID-19 infection rate that hovers close to 1 – the number related to an increased spread of the virus.
The government ceased testing on 12 March. At this point the virus ripped through communities and care homes leaving the UK with one of the worst death rates, per capita, in the world. As of 29 May the UK has registered 269,000 infections and nearly 38,000 deaths. COVID-19 related deaths is very likely to be greater and ONS figures reflect this with excess deaths during this period at 60,000.
Some schools, nurseries and shops are due to open from 2 June. The new test, track and trace system is starting to come online though it will not be fully realised until late June. Following the controversy surrounding Dominic Cummings and the resulting perceived relaxation of social distancing, there are already concerns about future compliance with the testing system.