As we approach the end of the first month back in Parliament this year, and what a busy one it has been, I have wasted no time and got straight back into the swing of things and stuck in with my Parliamentary and constituency responsibilities.
Kicking off things at the start of the month and ahead of ‘Blue Monday’, a day often described as the darkest day of the year, I spoke to a group of young campaigners about their work to improve current mental health policy. I have previously spoken openly about my own mental health journey, and it was inspiring to see these young people so passionate and determined to help bring about change.
Each week I sit on the Science and Tech Committee, a meeting of cross-party MPs, scrutinising and examining the Government’s departments and policies to ensure they work for everyone. We cover some fascinating topics, one of our most recent sessions covered UK space strategy and UK satellite infrastructure. In this session we examined the Government's approach to space policy, hearing evidence from the Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng.
In the chamber I raised concerns about the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and called on the Government to continue to do all they can to work with global partners to provide support for Ukraine. The ongoing crisis is of grave international concern and I am proud of the approach this Government is taking to support our friends in Ukraine.
Outside of Westminster I have been lucky enough to be able to meet some fantastic businesses during my time as an MP. I had the pleasure of popping along to a brilliant new business in Fore Bondgate, Knead a Slice. Alongside a lovely atmosphere and some great food, I chatted to the owner of the business NAME about how things are going over a slice of margherita.
This month I also met students at Bishop Barrington school and we spoke about life as an MP, their aspirations, where they want to go in life, as well as their favourite subjects. Whilst visiting I was also treated to a tour of their newly refurbished facilities and got to chat to Mr Powell and Mr Sowerby about how things were going.
There is no industry that has been hit harder by Coronavirus than the health service. As we steadily role out of Coronavirus restrictions following the introduction of Plan A, I spoke to GPs about the challenges they’ve been facing and how they have adapted to the Coronavirus safety measures. We had an open and honest discussion, which I have already taken back and fed into the Government and they explained to me the advice and guidance they are trying to get out to the public about GP's, as many people are coming to them when they don't need to. Moving forward, my team and I are working closely with them to ensure good communication about GPs and their services is readily available. Watch this space!
We had some exciting news this month, with funding for the new Weardale line being secured. In response to this, I joined Richard Holden and Cllr Luke Allan Holmes at Bishop Trains to discuss where this can help and how this will help provide better transport services across the North-East. Something that I know is drastically needed. Next month I plan to meet with representatives from Durham County Council to discuss the current issues raised to me about local bus services and help to find a solution to this.
Rounding off the month, I met virtually with representatives from Durham County Council to speak about local regeneration work, and receive an update on how long this work is taking and what is currently being done. So far I have helped to secure over £70m of funding to help Level Up in Bishop, but the work is not done yet and I am keeping a close eye on the progress and allocation of this funding to ensure real change is delivered!
February is set to be another busy month with the Levelling Up White Paper set to come out. I am expecting a lot of exciting things for our area and can’t wait to see what is included. In a few weeks the House will rise for recess, and I am looking forward to getting to spend a week up in the constituency. See you soon!