They say a week is a long time in politics, but the month since my last column has probably been one of the most eventful our country has ever seen.
I want to begin by paying tribute to the NHS staff and key workers who are going above and beyond to keep our town going – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, cleaners, porters, council workers, postal workers, bus and delivery drivers, ambulance staff, retail staff, care workers, food manufacturers, teachers, police and many more.
And to our volunteers who have stepped up – from the Sikh community donating meals to Warrington Hospital, to the schools manufacturing vital PPE, and the ordinary members of the community doing the extraordinary! Thank you.
I was exposed to the virus in Parliament after a number of colleagues in my shared office became ill and while I feel fine, I have followed all Government guidance regarding travel and self-isolation.
Recess would usually be a time jam packed with visits to schools, workplaces and community groups, which have all unfortunately had to be postponed for safety reasons.
My constituency office in Orford has also had to close its doors temporarily, but me and my team are all working from home supporting constituents on a variety of issues.
While I might be a new MP, there is almost 40 years of experience in my team and this has proved invaluable in allowing us to meet unprecedented demand for advice and support.
Alongside dealing with casework, I am speaking daily to the council, and regularly with the Cheshire Police and Cheshire Fire and Rescue to raise issues on behalf of constituents and ensure no person or local business falls through the gaps of the support available.
I have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure the safe return of Warringtonians stranded abroad, lobbying the Department for Health to ensure stocks of PPE for NHS and care staff, lobbying the Department for Transport to remove the Mersey Gateway toll, and lobbying the Treasury for greater support for the voluntary sector, for renters and for self-employed people.
I also secured £5,000 of funding for Warrington Foodbank through the trade union movement and met with local mental health initiatives about how they are adapting their support.
MPs may not be able to access Parliament at the moment, but I have supported ‘Digital Parliament’ solutions will mean we can raise issues with ministers more effectively and hope this will be in place very soon.
Times of joy and celebration for many have been muted by coronavirus, from birthdays and anniversaries, to new babies, and the festivals of Easter, Passover and Vaisakhi.
But while it is not yet clear when normal life can begin to resume, as the Queen said in her speech – “we will meet again”.