2023 has certainly been a busy and eventful year, full of great achievements and delivering for the great folk of Ashfield and Eastwood. My office and I have dealt with 8,626 constituent enquiries this year and have assisted thousands of local residents with their concerns.
Most of my weeks have been filled with welcoming constituents for tours of Parliament and to watch PMQs. It is a true pleasure to meet constituents and to put the world to rights when we discuss politics, as well as getting to show them the wonderful place that I am fortunate enough to work in.
Following the tragic death of Sean Lynk, the son of my good friend Graham, in December 2022 I was moved to get involved in campaigning about the issue of male suicide. We all have moments where we suffer with our mental health, but I have become increasingly aware over the last year how fragile a topic this is amongst men. I am the first to admit that mental health is not something that most men feel comfortable speaking about, however we face a growing problem, given that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. Men’s mental health is an issue I am now passionate about. So far this year, I have helped to raise over £20,000 for Enlighten the Shadows, a local men’s charity. I hope to continue this good work in 2024.
In February, I was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. It was a real honour to be given this position and to be responsible for engaging with the country’s Conservative Party members. Throughout 2023, I have visited 48 Conservative Associations as a guest speaker. As people will be aware, I started my political journey in the Labour Party, having come from a working class, mining family. My decision to leave in 2018 and to become a part of the Conservative Party is something that I will be forever proud of. My Party has demonstrated to me where my true political home is. I will continue to work hard as Deputy Chair and to ensure that the views of people in Real World are represented.
I was delighted by the news in October that £20 million had been awarded to Kirkby in Ashfield as part of the Government’s Plan for Towns Programme. Each week, I have spent a lot of time speaking to local traders to understand their concerns. I have listened and fed this back to the Government each time. I am proud to see that after many decades of being ignored, Ashfield is finally getting the recognition and love it deserves. The funding that I have secured will help to restore our highstreets.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the great people of Ashfield and Eastwood a very Merry Christmas. I hope constituents will take the time over the festive period to relax and enjoy being with family. I know that this time of year can be difficult for many, so please do look out for your neighbours and check in with one another too.