Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Glint Of Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Earlier this week I enjoyed a wonderful visit to Swindon Interactive Arts Service (SWIAS) at St Andrew’s Church in Moredon. The group has been running for 12 years, offering a weekly session for adults with learning disabilities and their Carers. There is a wide range of activities on offer, including arts and crafts, cooking, and visits. They also put on a very popular Christmas play.

SWIAS is run by a group of fantastic volunteers who work incredibly hard to offer this brilliant service, which has proved to be so important for the people it supports. It was a real joy to sit down with one of the members, Sarah, who proudly showed me her scrapbook of photos from the various activities she had taken part in over the year.

The group recently reached out to me asking for advice around fundraising, as they need to raise about £12k per year to continue this service. Following this, I linked the group with Swindon Voluntary Service, who have been working with the charity’s trustees to identify potential grants – which I will, of course be supporting. It would be fantastic if any local businesses or anyone doing any potential fun runs or marathons would consider them as a charity to support – it really would make a difference, no matter how small.

Like many I was surprised by Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she would be stepping down as Scotland’s First Minister. Whilst we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, she like Margaret Thatcher will leave office having won all the elections she led – leaving us with only 6 Scottish MP’s and Labour just 1. In no small part because of being a strong and articulate politician. She has dedicated her life to public service and certainly made her presence felt.

In other news, it was announced this week that inflation had fallen for the third month in a row, falling faster than expected - another step in the right direction for the Prime Minister’s pledge to halve inflation this year. In addition to this, figures showed that employment increased by 102,000 in January and nearing a 50-year employment high. There was further positive news when the FTSE 100 hit a record 8000 points on Wednesday. This is positive news as FTSE 100 investments focus on the future economic outlook, rather than the current situation – so its strong performance is an encouraging sign that better times are ahead.

In general, the UK is the fastest growing economy in the G7, a sign that it is more resilient than first feared. There is still a way to go, but there is a definite glint of light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, I wanted to express my shock and sadness at the terrible images coming from Turkey and Syria following last week’s earthquake. More than 40,000 people have been confirmed dead – a number that is difficult to comprehend, and millions more are homeless in freezing temperatures. The UK is committing a further package of support to address urgent humanitarian needs. The £25 million in new overseas aid will fund additional emergency relief, such as tents and blankets for families made homeless. There is also the ongoing deployment of world-class UK medical expertise through the joint Ministry of Defence – Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Field Hospital. This is a truly devastating situation, and my thoughts are with everyone who has been affected.

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