You can read Sharon's recent Echo Column below or on the Sunderland Echo website.
Many families in our area have already been hit hard financially by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Yet, as they have done so often during this crisis, the Government recently overlooked the needs of working families in our region. Local lockdown measures were implemented at short notice, which effectively put an end to informal childcare arrangements.
This left parents who rely on support from grandparents, friends and family facing a choice between staying at home to care for their children and potentially losing their job, or finding formal childcare with no notice and no budget to pay for it.
Many constituents wrote to me to share their worries and anxieties. Families who were already often on low pay, particularly women and single parents, were left facing severe hardship. I wrote to Matt Hancock to raise their concerns, and asked the Government to reconsider.
Thankfully, Ministers relented, and have now said that informal childcare arrangements for those aged under 14 can continue, ensuring those who rely on them are not left under even more financial strain as we adjust to new local restrictions.
But whilst this decision has provided some relief to working parents, I know that for many of us the next few weeks will continue to be challenging. Local lockdown will keep friends and families apart, and businesses face renewed financial pressures.
Nobody wants to see any more restrictions on our daily life, but the concerning growth of this virus cannot be ignored.
I would therefore urge everyone to continue to follow local lockdown measures, which remain in place alongside the additional measures announced by Government. Please avoid visiting other people, only socialise with members of your own household, and only take essential journeys.
As ever, if any of my constituents have any concerns about these measures, please do email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do all I can to help you.
Our region has felt the impact of Covid-19 more severely than many others. We must now do everything we can to slow the rate of infection, and protect the NHS, our most vulnerable, and the health of those around us.