Thursday, 15 April 2010

Bill out and about in West Belfast

Yesterday morning saw The Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Caroline Spelman visiting my constituency. Caroline has a real grasp of the key social issues facing marginalised communities and must be a real asset to her own constituents in Meriden.

We started the morning by visiting residents living in some of the worst conditions I have ever experienced. Hearing their stories of how they feel that they have been abandoned by the statutory agencies as well as their elected representatives underlines the feeling of despair being shown by many of the people in West Belfast.

From here we visited the offices of the Forum for Action on Substance Abuse (FASA) to discuss the problems that our young people are facing which are forcing more and more into drug addiction and suicide.

Caroline was involved in the formation and currently sits on the board of a similar organisation at home called 'Welcome'. It was great to have a future minister showing her clear understanding and empathy of this challenging and devastating issue.

Our next stop was to visit the Suffolk and Lenadoon Interface Group (SLIG) where we met with staff and community leaders involved with this very successful project.

Formed 16 years ago, SLIG has proven to be an excellent example of how our two communities can work together towards understanding and reconciliation. The success of this group is used throughout the UK and beyond as an excellent example of post-confrontation development.

My sincerest thanks to Caroline (and Simon) for their support today, it is exciting to think that, as Conservatives and Unionists we could have such a qualified and committed minister in the next government. All we need is for each of us who have had enough of the double jobbing and lack of accountability shown by our politicians to VOTE FOR CHANGE.

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