Robert's Weekly Column - 17th June 2020

Loneliness has long been an issue that I have worked on locally with the aim of bringing together key organisations in and around Swindon to discuss the excellent work that is already taking place and what further can be done. Loneliness has become even more of an issue in recent months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is why this week, which is Loneliness Awareness Week, is so important and serves as a timely reminder that we all have a role to play in addressing the problem. Through my work as the local MP it is clear that the charity and community sector is a powerful force for good by supporting individuals to connect, reducing feelings of isolation, and helping communities to thrive.

I am delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has awarded £29,863 to community projects here in South Swindon. One of the charities to receive funding was IPSUM, a mental health and wellbeing centre supporting Swindon and the surrounding area. This vital funding will be used to deliver a virtual and telephone support service to those suffering poor mental health during the Covid-19 lockdown. The project which aims to keep in touch with vulnerable individuals and offer a positive distraction at a time of vulnerability will also offer art tutorials for all ages, using household items readily available within the home. More information can be found via: https://www.ipsum.care/

I have been working closely with Old Town Councillor Nick Burns-Howell on concerns raised by local residents over the Ambrose crossing. We have spoken to the developer and to the planning team about this application and while it is currently pending a final decision, the Council’s Highways Team has raised an objection to the proposal to remove a crossing requirement.

We are working to ensure that we not only get a crossing but also adequate traffic calming measures on Croft Road. We want to reassure everyone who has signed the petition that we are aware of these concerns and will keep everybody updated on our progress.

Swindon Domestic Abuse Service has seen a huge increase demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, so I am pleased that they are set to receive an additional £36,930 of government funding. I would like to thank all those wonderful volunteers who are currently working hard to support this brilliant local charity.

I would also urge any man or women who believes they may be suffering from abuse of any kind, including coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of violence), psychological and/or emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial or economic abuse, harassment and stalking, or online or digital abuse, to reach out for support by ringing the 24-hour helpline on 01793 610610 or visiting https://swadomesticabuse.org/

Swindon Borough Council will receive £930,733 to develop tailored plans to keep the spread of coronavirus under control. They will work closely with the local NHS and the new NHS Test and Trace Service to ensure it has sufficient resources to tackle the virus locally.

I want to thank everyone here in Swindon who is working tirelessly to help control the spread of coronavirus locally. This additional funding from the Government will be key to supporting our local efforts, and I will work with local authority leaders to ensure that it is put to good use.

Tackling coronavirus requires us all to play our part, engaging with the new Test and Trace Service where we need to and continuing to stay alert, to control the virus, and save lives.