Robert's Weekly Column - Wednesday 19th December 2018

With just under a week to go until Christmas, Swindon is looking more festive by the day, but the reality for me and most MPs is that we carry on working in our constituencies right up until the big day, making visits to local organisations and meeting with residents, as well as volunteering at projects such as “Alone at Christmas”.  This year’s event will take place again at Christ Church Community Centre here in Old Town between 12-3pm on Christmas Day and I am looking forward to helping volunteers with preparations for the event on Christmas Eve.

If you know of anyone who will be on their own on Christmas Day, please get in touch with Chris Smith on 01793 617237.  Also, if you would like to help in any way, by giving a donation, or helping on the day or in advance, then please also get in touch with Chris at Christ Church Community Centre.

I am also very pleased that Christmas Care will be working again this year.  The charity, supported by the work of dedicated volunteers, will operate from Buckhurst Community Centre in Walcot.  All visitors will be given food and hot drinks, as well as a change of clothing and new footwear.

Every year, both of these events have been inundated with offers from volunteers and donors, which is a true testimony to the strength of community spirit that exists here in Swindon.

I met up with Age UK, here at my Constituency Office in Wood Street last week.  I am delighted that the largest charity working with older people in the UK will be taking on the running of Toothill Community Centre in West Swindon.  I was pleased to hear more about their plans for an enhanced service in Swindon and the support they will be offering to older people within our local community.  I look forward to working closely with them as part of my continuing campaign on loneliness.

My work on the issue of loneliness, together with Swindon Seniors Forum and other local groups, really brings home the fact that there are many people out there who are not so fortunate to be surrounded by their loved ones at Christmas.  Please spare a thought for those people who are ill or alone, a simple act like a phone call or a visit can make all of the difference.

One of the greatest pleasures about my role as your MP is welcoming local schools to Parliament, as well as regularly visiting staff and pupils at the many schools here in South Swindon. I recently visited Sixth Form Economics and Politics students at the Ridgeway School and Sixth Form College in Wroughton and enjoyed a lively and stimulating discussion about politics and current affairs.  I look forward to continuing to meet with pupils and staff at schools both here in South Swindon and in Parliament during 2019. If you would like to arrange a visit to Parliament, you can find out more information by visiting https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/

Finally, I am delighted that Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced that police funding across Swindon and Wiltshire will increase by £9.1 million next year, while Swindon will get an above-average, above-inflation 3.4% increase in Local Government Funding.

This follows on from the excellent news that Great Western Hospital is to benefit from almost £30 million of new investment to expand services.

I will continue to work hard with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson to ensure that our town remains at the front of the queue when it comes to investment in 2019.