After what must surely have been among the most tumultuous few months in Parliament’s history, it has been a relief to have made it to summer recess!
I’ve enjoyed the first few weeks and being able to really focus on meeting as many groups and organisations across Warrington North without the normal time constraints of half the week in London.
I’ve been meeting businesses large and small - from the Warrington suppliers in the Sizewell C Consortium to the smallest like Graze Cheshire. These meetings both help guide me in my work supporting them but also mean I’m learning new things every day about the amazing work that takes place locally, from one of the largest recycling firms in the world to the manufacturers of the pitch covers at Wimbledon!
If we are, as expected, to face a deep recession then many local businesses will need extra support to weather the storm. Alongside calling for more targeted support for the hardest-hit sectors, I’m focused on bringing investment to Warrington that, with co-operation across the business community and a focus on local procurement, we can keep circulating around our local economy to shield us from the worst effects of what might be to come and protect jobs.
During recess, I’ve also been out in the community, including volunteering at Warrington Foodbank, visiting the Puddle Project, joining the Friends of Culcheth Library for its reopening, and dropping in to support the amazing fundraising efforts of White Watch at Warrington Fire Station. As we come out of lockdown, many community groups are starting to meet again and it has been great to be able to join them in person rather than through a screen!
My constituency team have really gone above and beyond over recent months in helping to meet the unprecedented demand for support from our office, and we will soon be in a position to begin a phased reopening with in-person weekly surgeries (rather than by Zoom or telephone) at the office and roving doorstep surgeries resuming once the advice is it’s safe to do so.
In readiness for returning to Parliament in September, there’s also plenty of work to be done preparing for legislation on issues like Online Harms, and making the reforms that the pandemic has really demonstrated the urgency for from Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay, to social care.
By the time I pen my next column, I really hope we will be on our way back to normal but as the Greater Manchester lockdown has demonstrated, things can move very quickly back the other way. Please continue to be vigilant, stay safe and enjoy your summer!