As I write this, the House is in Easter recess, which gives me time to spend meeting with constituents, catching up on casework, as well as visiting local schools, businesses and organisations.
Since becoming your Member of Parliament almost two years ago I have been encouraged to see the way in which our local schools engage in democracy and citizenship. Some have visited the Houses of Parliament as part of the Education Service offered at Westminster, and just before recess I met teachers and children from Cooper Jordan School who were on a tour of Parliament.
Last week though was a little different: Parliament came to Pelsall! To Ryder Hayes School – via the Parliament loan box. Designed to inspire debate, deepen understanding of democracy and provide an insight into the work of Parliament, the box included a division bell, speakers robe, a mace and even backdrops to recreate both chambers in the classroom. I was certainly impressed when I visited, not least by the wide range of questions from Year 5 who put me through my paces and quizzed me about my work as an MP and the workings of Parliament.
Easter is a time of new life, warmth and colour after the darker days of winter, and a time of renewal and hope. For some, the bank holiday weekend will provide a welcome break and an opportunity to come together with family and friends, and within communities. At Westminster I recently attended a launch of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, in support of their work and to find out more about the practical steps that we can all take to tackle loneliness, particularly among older people. It has a slogan “start a conversation” to help encourage us all to talk to a friend or neighbour, visit or just make time for the people we meet. Sound words for us all, not just for politicians, as we go about our daily lives. This was reinforced perfectly when I called into the Community Café at Streetly All Saints Parish Church recently, and at the Easter coffee morning at St James’ Church in Brownhills. Different places, different occasions, but each with a common and very real sense of community that was reflected in their welcome.
There will be much going on in and around the constituency this Easter weekend, within our churches and across communities, including a gathering from the Historic Narrow Boats Club that will pass through Brownhills. Let me close by wishing you all a peaceful and Happy Easter.