Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 28 June 2017

One of the main problems affecting the lives and well-being of older people is loneliness. Human beings are social animals, but the prospect of having hours and even days without talking to another living soul is being faced every day by many of our older Swindon residents. About 31,000 people are over the age of sixty-five in Swindon, which is 15% of our town’s population. Many people enjoy the company of friends and family, but there are many older residents who don't have these links. I’ve been working on organising a Loneliness Summit with Swindon Seniors Forum as part of a local campaign to help tackle this issue. This event will take place at the Lawn Community Centre on 30th June, with the aim of bringing together key local organisations from different sectors to discuss what we can do to spread some of the excellent work that is being done here to reduce the problem. In October last year, Swindon Seniors Forum conducted a survey of loneliness to identify and gather information. The survey responses have been put together and will be discussed at the Summit, with a view to influencing future decisions and making improvements to the lives of elderly people in Swindon. If you belong to a local organisation or charity and would like to attend the Loneliness Summit, please get in touch with me by emailing or phoning my office on 01793 533393.

My team and I are having problems accessing email due to a cyber-attack on the Parliamentary system. As I receive most of my constituency correspondence through email, this is causing problems, but I will respond to all residents' emails as quickly as I can. Please phone my office if your issue is urgent, leaving a message if lines are busy.

Last Friday, I joined a team from Swindon Borough Council and our Fire & Rescue Service to visit some of our high rise buildings in Swindon to see for myself how the risk of fire is managed.  Swindon Borough Council have confirmed that that none of Swindon’s buildings have been clad using material like that at Grenfell Tower. I spoke to residents about issues such as smoke alarms, fire containment and evacuation procedures. Smoke alarms are linked to the Council’s central control room which improves the response. I noted the vital importance of fire doors which are the main way in which to contain a fire in a particular flat and ensure that the stairwells are smoke free places. The Council and Fire Service have prepared special fire safety fact sheets and a Question & Answer leaflet for all residents in light of the tragic events in London.

This week in Parliament, we will be voting on the Queen’s Speech, the agreement reached with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party will help to support the Government as we continue with the vital Brexit negotiations. Now is the time for us to be getting on with the job, rather than having a destabilised political situation. As no party has a majority in the House of Commons, this is the time for politicians of all parties to seek common ground wherever possible so that legislation on vital issues such as mental health and domestic abuse can be passed. Brexit is a matter for all of us, so we need the current leadership of the Opposition to take a proper interest in the details of this issue rather than carrying on an election campaign that finished weeks ago.