It’s been a somewhat eventful start, but it is truly an honour to be serving my home community of Dover & Deal as the Member of Parliament.
Over the last six months I’ve raised concerns in the House of Commons chamber, in front of TV cameras, and directly with Government Ministers. Top of the national issues we have been dealing are the illegal small boats crossings, progressing large infrastructure commitments for the A2 upgrade works as well as much needed improvements for Whitfield village, we have pushed the East Kent Hospital Trust for urgent improvements in our local maternity services, made the case for the establishment of the Kirkup review into avoidable baby loss deaths and post birth mental health support, as well as working on the Brexit preparations as we move towards finally leaving the EU at the end of this year.
Yet in so many respects a particularly satisfying part of the job for me and my team is helping people with the specific issues they are facing – to make a real difference in their daily lives.
One such case was where a mistake had been made on a medical assessment for disability benefits. As a result, someone who had a serious amputation was told to hand back a specially adapted mobility vehicle that was their lifeline. I raised the matter with the Department of Work and Pensions Ministers and with the disability vehicle company. As a result, that mistake was urgently rectified and the special vehicle retained.
Another was a constituent whose spouse had terminal cancer but who was abroad and unable to get back to the UK. We helped rush through an application for a spousal visa, so they could be reunited and spend important final time together.
The East Kent Railway, a heritage attraction that celebrates our area’s mining history, had been subjected to an arson attack, vandalism and now the pandemic within the space of six months. We helped secure a Government grant which means they have not only survived but are now looking to enhance their fantastic work.
We’ve also reminded companies of their obligations on everything from fair employment to social distancing. We’ve worked to get the rubbish tips open sooner to crack down on fly-tipping. We are pressing for key health services to be restored, so that everyone has the healthcare they need. And we’ve stopped people getting evicted, as well as helping people who have needed to move home.
But we haven’t been able to solve every case. Our commitment is to step in and do our best. Speaking up for others, making authorities look again at the decisions they make, giving voice to the most vulnerable and delivering results. This is without a doubt such an important part of being a Member of Parliament for a community you know and love.