Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 3rd August

Since the referendum result, one thing that has deeply concerned me is the truly abhorrent hate crimes that have been perpetrated against sections of our own society. It is simply not acceptable that we have seen graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, or that verbal abuse has been hurled against members of ethnic minorities. Such actions have no place in our society, and they must be stamped out, fast.

One of things I have been working on in my capacity as Solicitor General is improving prosecutions for hate crimes. It is vital that victims of crimes motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudices are confident that these offences are investigated and prosecuted. In addition to improving prosecutions, the Hate Crime Action Plan, which was launched last week, includes £2.4 million in funding to provide security measures and equipment for vulnerable places of worship that need increased protection.

Last week, I had the pleasure of being able to meet with the staff of PEP&Co, a fantastic clothing outlet situated in our Town Centre which offers a wide range of clothing at low prices in various sizes for all the family. It was great to have the chance to congratulate them for all their hard work and celebrate with them their one year anniversary of being here in Swindon.

On a separate note, I’ve recently been in discussions with staff at the Swindon Family Contact Centre (SFCC) about some of the challenges facing their charity at the moment and the work that they’re doing in our town. The SFCC is a fantastic local asset which aims to provide a safe, friendly, and neutral location where non-resident parents can spend some quality time with their children in a supported setting. The centre is run entirely by volunteers, and they’re looking for new people to join their hardworking team located in the Health Hydro on Milton Road. If you interested in helping out, you can contact the team either by phone at 01793 845553 or by email at swindonfamilycontact@uwclub.net. The centre operates every Saturday between 10am and 2pm.

In light of the tragic events occurring throughout the world in the recent weeks, such as… it’s reassuring to know that we have a group in Swindon which helps educate people on the psychological, social and physical effects of traumatic events and experiences. The Swindon Trauma Group can help people mentally prepare for events like bereavement and also helps during the recovering stages. The group hold regular tea and coffee sessions at the Lydiard Park Conference Centre, more details of which can be found on their website www.swindontraumagroup.org.uk.

Turning to local sport, I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the Swindon Town Football in the Community Under-14 girls for not just reaching the B Final of the Gothia Cup held in Sweden, but for going on and defeating their Finnish rivals Jarvenpaan Palloseura 2-0. An extra special congratulations must be extended to the two goal scores, Lois Beer and Flo Ashton. The squad are the first team in over ten years to bring this trophy home, so a huge well done to the girls.

I can’t wait for the Olympics to kick off in Rio this coming Friday. It feels like only yesterday that I was standing in Wharf Green watching the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was truly outstanding to see how in our millions got behind TeamGB and cheered them on to a record amount of gold medals. My personal highlight of that summer however was not Super Saturday or the Opening Ceremony, but rather seeing how the country united behind the Paralympics games.

Lastly, I’d like to congratulate Becky Kerr, Michelle Bandera and Sheryl Hadgkiss who, as part of the National Citizenship Service, managed to raise hundreds of pounds for the Rainbow Trust by dancing for a staggering 12 hours outside The Parade. If you would like to support the group by donating to the Rainbow Trust, a charity which helps children with terminal illnesses, please head to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/ncsrainbow