As expected, last week saw a busy return to Westminster, but before doing so, it was great to pop along to the Botley Inside-Out event! Despite the torrential rain the community turned out to support this brilliant new initiative showcasing some of the fantastic community action projects, local groups and opportunities on offer. As ever, it was also really lovely to catch-up with some of the local Councillors, and I am certain that this event will go from strength to strength in the years to come!
The following day, communities across the country marked the huge contribution of older people to our society through Silver Sunday celebrations. I have more to say on what we will be doing to carry on these celebrations locally, and will report back in next week’s column!
Meanwhile, back in Parliament last Tuesday we marked Baby Loss Awareness Week. I was proud to be on the front bench for this debate and proud to have supported my colleagues. In recent years we have seen a real step-change in the way that the sharing of personal experiences are changing political debate, and I welcome that change. I was so pleased that one of my own constituents, Marc Harder, had travelled from Fair Oak to help educate MPs on this really important issue. Marc is doing some vital work on the National Bereavement Care Pathway through his role within the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society, and it’s great that this work has such local groundings.
World Mental Health Day was also marked last week, and like many MPs, I have met constituents during my local advice surgeries that have been affected by mental health issues and have come forward for help and support, however, the stigma surrounding mental ill-health means that too many feel unable to reach out. That’s why I welcomed the appointment of our first Minister for Suicide Prevention last week, who will be working to tackle the stigma. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister unveiled a pledge of up to £1.8 million in government funding to ensure the Samaritans can offer 24-hour free support. While writing, I would also like to pay tribute to the amazing local charities and volunteers across the Eastleigh constituency who do so much to support others in their time of need, including Solent Mind at Leigh Road in Eastleigh, which members of my team visited just last week.
Finally, one of the key pieces of legislation debated in the Commons Chamber last week was the Agriculture Bill, which was brought forward for its Second Reading. Having worked alongside Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, I know just how much effort colleagues have put in to getting this right, and it was great to see MPs across the House recognising the crucial role that it will play, with food and farming generating £112 billion a year and helping shape some of our finest habitats and landscapes. My thanks to all of those who help to produce the food – and drink! – that ends up on our plates. We have a duty to ensure that the future of farming in the UK is safeguarded, and I was delighted that this Bill passed its Second Reading last week helping us to do exactly that.
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Wishing you all an enjoyable week!