“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world…” - Desmond Tutu
The above quote, from Desmond Tutu, sums up a lot of my own personal philosophy: not everyone is superman, but everyone can do amazing things and be an agent of positive change in the world. History books – and almost all children’s books – are full of inspirational stories about people who have gone the extra mile to help their community and change lives for the better. On Volunteer’s Week, I want to recognise those unsung heroes who make our world a brighter, better, and friendlier place to live in.
This week, I was back in Parliament after several weeks of virtual meetings. While adhering to strict social distancing measures, I went to parliamentary meetings, attended debates, made representations to my ministerial colleagues, and responded to queries raised by constituents. On Thursday 4th June, I attended a question time session with ministers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the team that promotes our cultural and artistic heritage and helps businesses and communities grow by investing in innovation. During this event, I took up the mantle of volunteer’s week and mentioned one local group that is helping vulnerable residents in our community: local councillors in Tettenhall Regis who have launched online and social media training for the over-65s. I am pleased the Minister, The Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP OBE, joined me in congratulating the volunteers on this important initiative.
To support our amazing volunteers, I welcome the unprecedented package of financial support that the Government has made available to charities. This includes £750 million extra funding as well as further support for specific charity sectors. To help our communities during this difficult time, the Government has also launched NHS Volunteers Responders. This is a new scheme that aims to assist the up to 1.5 million people who have underlying health conditions. I am delighted that over 750,000 people have already signed up. If you or someone you know needs help with collecting shopping or prescriptions, or just wants someone to talk to, you can call the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 or visit nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk where you can also sign up to volunteer and get involved in this scheme.
As elected representatives, I believe that it is our job to be positive role models and to champion positive opportunities for everyone to get involved in social action. Perhaps most importantly, it is important to inspire young people to get involved. I promoted this agenda in Parliament back in February – just months after my election. I praised the successful youth inclusion model that the Way Youth Zone has built, and I asked ministers what more could be done to provide funding so that more young people can access positive opportunities. I am delighted that the youth investment fund will enable the development and expansion of capital resources, including buildings and mobile facilities for harder-to-reach areas.
I was also pleased to recently touch base with the newly elected members of the UK Youth Parliament for Wolverhampton. Tutsirai and Ruby are doing an excellent job in making sure that young people are listened to and that their priorities are championed; I look forward to working with them in the future to ensure that everyone is fairly represented in Parliament and beyond. Finally, my art competition came to an end this week. Since I launched the scheme over a month ago, I have received much colourful and creative art that has brightened up my office. Many of these have been dedicated to our key workers who have gone the extra mile and served on the frontline of the battle against Coronavirus. All entries get a certificate. This art will be an enduring symbol of a difficult period in local and national history.