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Don't mention Brexit!: Redbridge's Labour and Conservative MPs locked up together to raise money for Woodford Green charity Elhap

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:20 04 February 2019

MPs Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Iain Duncan Smith joined Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara, Mayor of Redbridge, to raise money for Elhap. Photo: Elhap

MPs Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Iain Duncan Smith joined Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara, Mayor of Redbridge, to raise money for Elhap. Photo: Elhap

John Ponter 2017

Redbridge’s MPs, Labour and Conservative alike, put aside their political differences and were locked up for a day to raise money for a Woodford Green charity.

MPs Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Iain Duncan Smith joined Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara, Mayor of Redbridge, to raise money for Elhap. Photo: ElhapMPs Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Iain Duncan Smith joined Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara, Mayor of Redbridge, to raise money for Elhap. Photo: Elhap

On Friday, February 1, Ilford South’s Mike Gapes and Ilford North’s Wes Streeting, both Labour, joined Chingford and Woodford Green’s Iain Duncan Smith, a Conservative, in a fundraiser that saw them rely on their supporters to raise £1,000 in bail money for each of them.

The “Redbridge Four” were locked up in the cells where the Kray Twins were originally jailed.

The building is now the exclusive Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch – a five-star hotel. However, the cells have been retained.

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith with Labour's Mike Gapes. Photo: ElhapConservative MP Iain Duncan Smith with Labour's Mike Gapes. Photo: Elhap

All the proceeds from the fundraiser will now go towards Woodford Green charity Every Life Has A Purpose (Elhap),and together the three MPs and Redbridge Mayor Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara successfully raised more than £5,000.

The Courthouse Hotel allowed the charity to make use of its cells free of charge in support of the fundraiser.

Mr Gapes said he had “a great experience” helping the mayor raise money for Elhap – which is an adventure playground set in more than five acres of woodland which specialises in giving disabled children a place to play.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes. Photo: ElhapIlford South MP Mike Gapes. Photo: Elhap

He added: “There is a lot more to politics than adversarial arguments.

“We all have more in common than that which divides us.

“I am glad that Elhap brought Iain, Wes and I together for such a great cause.”

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith. Photo: ElhapChingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith. Photo: Elhap

And Mr Duncan-Smith revealed he had been “enormously pleased” to be able to help out the charity, which works with more than 600 people and receives more than 6,000 visits a year.

He said: “Elhap is a remarkable east London charity changing the lives of children and adults with disabilities and those who are living with genuine disadvantage.

“This is an excellent cause.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting. Photo: ElhapIlford North MP Wes Streeting. Photo: Elhap

Meanwhile, Mr Streeting admitted he had actually been happy to take a break from the politics of recent weeks for “such a wonderful cause”.

He said:“After recent weeks in Parliament, being locked in a cell felt like an escape!

“But it was great to put aside politics for a few hours to raise thousands of pounds with Debbie, Mike and Iain for such a wonderful cause – not to mention terrific fun!”

Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara. Photo: ElhapMayor of Redbridge Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara. Photo: Elhap

The entire event was organised by Cllr Kaur-Thiara, who has chosen Elhap as her Mayor’s Appeal charity this year.

She said: “Every good act is a form of charity.

“I would like to thank Wes Streeting, Iain Duncan-Smith and Mike Gapes for supporting Redbridge Jailbreak and for everyone’s donations.

“It has been a real honour to raise Elhap’s profile for the sterling work they do.

“A person’s true wealth hereafter is the good they do in this world.”

The jailbreak also had a handy side effect – the MPs took to social media in an effort to get out of prison as soon as possible, massively boosting Elhap’s online profile.

Rachel Joseph, the charity’s head of development, said: “It is incredibly heart-warming that, despite everything that’s happening in the country right now, the mayor and MPs of Redbridge came together to support our work last Friday.

“In just a few hours they managed to get out of jail, raise over £5,000 and massively boost Elhap’s profile.

“Not bad for a morning’s work!

“We are incredibly grateful to them and to the many people who helped support them.”

The participants were able to choose their own prisoner numbers. Mr Duncan Smith decided to use the current prospective Brexit date.

There is no information on how that particular detail went down with Mr Streeting and Mr Gapes.

Each participant has since signed their prison overalls, and these will soon be auctioned off to raise more money for the charity.

Elhap urgently needs to secure additional financial support if it is to continue providing a life-line to local families.

To donate, or for more information, visit elhap.org.uk.

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