Being a parent with experience of bringing up a child with autism has given me an insight into the struggle that many parents of children with additional needs and disabilities face, so last Thursday, I was delighted to launch a charity fund with Wiltshire Community Foundation.
Millie’s Fund, named after my daughter, will support the education of young people with additional learning needs or a disability in Swindon by funding IT equipment such as laptops or iPads, out of school activities, travel costs, or study trips.
The fund has been set up with a £12,000 donation, which I have raised over the years. This fund has been doubled by Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Swindon Match Fund and I am hoping that with more fundraising and by encouraging donations, this will grow even further. The fund capital will be invested by the community foundation and the income used to make grants so that it becomes a lasting resource for families in our town.
Setting this fund up seems to sum up my own experiences and do something positive about what on some levels was quite a challenge for me and my family. It’s something that none of us ever expect to happen but you have got to make something good out of all these situations and this is my attempt to do that.
During my time as an MP here in South Swindon, I have helped dozens of families who have struggled to get a diagnosis or the right support, and as a backbencher, I have campaigned long and hard for improvements to the SEN system.
I understand the frustrations that parents face when having to navigate an increasingly complex system and encountering long delays in accessing support.
I am glad that the government has proposed to establish a new national SEND and alternative provision system, setting nationally consistent standards for how needs are identified and met at every stage of a child’s journey across education, health, and care.
I am glad that the government also proposes to introduce a standardised and digitised EHCP process to minimise bureaucracy and deliver consistency.
To achieve these ambitions, the government is working with children and young people, parents and carers, those who advocate and work within the SEND sector, and local and national system leaders. It is vital that those people on the front line have a voice and are listened to and consulted if we are to improve the system.
Grants of up to £1,000 are available from Millie’s Fund. More details of eligibility and how to apply can be found by visiting https://localgiving.org/charity/wiltshirecf/project/milliesFund/ or
if you would like to organise a fundraising event, please contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This coming Thursday, residents right the way across our town will have the opportunity to shape the future of Swindon by voting in this year’s local elections. I have been having many conversations with residents about the issues that matter locally and nationally, far away from the Westminster bubble.
I am proud that last year, the Swindon Conservatives were able to secure one of our best ever sets of results, seeing our majority on the Council increase from 3 to 15. Since then, our hardworking and dedicated Conservative team have made excellent progress here in our town, from the opening of Kingfisher CE Academy Primary School in Wichelstowe, to supporting an increase in NHS Funding including £250 million to improve GP availability. I am particularly pleased that our candidates have a strong track record of community action, working with me and residents to improve our local areas, from rubbish clearance to tree and flower planting.
The last Towns Fund meeting was also held last Friday, as all of the projects are now on track. The future looks bright for Swindon with a £32 million Bus Boulevard to deliver a new public transport interchange, a brand new twice-weekly market in Wharf Green, £7m for the Kimmerfields development, significant investment in the Health Hydro, and £5m for phase 3 of the Carriageworks. These are just some of the many positive reasons to vote for our excellent Conservative candidates on Thursday.