Last Updated: 28 December 2018
Created: 28 December 2018
It might seem like 2018 has of been dominated by Brexit, but away from that hugely important issue I’ve been incredibly busy both locally and in Parliament. Sharing the ideas of fellow local residents with Ministers; lobbying for new funding for local services; and supporting dozens of charities & community groups from across Swindon.
In Parliament, I was hugely honoured when the Prime Minister asked me to rejoin the Government as Minister at the Department for Work & Pensions.
Though my role is a little different from last time, I’m still working with wonderful organisations like Women’s Aid, the Salvation Army, and Barnardo’s to support people who have suffered domestic abuse, experienced homelessness, or been through the care system. In the short time I’ve held the role, I’ve already made some significant changes including launching a new Care Leavers Covenant, changing the training staff get to spot domestic abuse, and launching pilots to tackle homelessness.
Prior to rejoining the Government, I helped secure lots of changes in areas I’ve actively campaigned on. The Education Secretary confirmed all young people will learn CPR at school (something which is incredibly personal to me), while the Environment Secretary ended the sale of ivory, increased the sentence for animal cruelty, and banned puppy farming (changes I’ve actively lobbied for on behalf of local residents).
I was also really pleased to be able to highlight the huge success of local student Maisie Sly. Maisie, who attends Red Oaks School and is deaf, starred in the Oscar-winning short film ‘The Silent Child’. I was so impressed that I raised it at Prime Minister’s Questions. It was wonderful to hear the Prime Minister recognising Maisie’s phenomenal achievement.
We’ve also had fantastic news for our schools and the NHS.
From our record NHS investment, I’ve helped to secure £30 million towards expanding the GWH’s A&E, and I’ve hosted events to help the Brighter Futures campaign hit their £2.9 million fundraising target.
Perhaps the biggest news locally was the opening of the £21 million Great Western Academy - a vital new secondary school for the Northern Sector which I led the campaign to deliver (and was even allowed to secure the final beam in place). This school will make a huge difference and it is one of my proudest achievements.
I’ve also been overwhelmed by the number of fantastic charities and local organisations who have used the free space at my Community Office. This year we’ve had a record number of groups join us and if you support a local group which is looking for somewhere to host meetings or events next year, please do get in touch with me.
In the summer I opened the office to local community group Enrych to hold a Great Get Together event, a tea party which aims to tackle loneliness and isolation. Throughout the year the office was brightened up by The Rainbow Trust, who held play sessions for seriously ill children & their families, and recently Phoenix Enterprises & the Zurich Community Trust held a very lively Christmas party.
One of the highlights of the year was the disability employment event I organised with Horizons College, where students demonstrated their cookery skills to local businesses and celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. This event encapsulated perfectly the wonderful talent on display in Swindon.
As 2018 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2019, I want to wish everyone across our town a very happy new year.