As an MP, my job is to bring the issues of my constituents to Westminster, and represent them in various ways. While the more obvious ways of doing this might be to speak in the chamber, or to write letters to ministers, there are many avenues in which I can lobby, and push important agendas.
One of these is to be a part of an All-Party Parliamentary Group. These are interest groups which have members in from both sides of the bench. Different parties put aside their political differences for a time and discuss in a more communal manner subjects which affect wither their constituents, or subjects close to their hearts.
APPGs range from the APPG on the Choice at The End of Life, to the APPG on Eggs, Pigs and Poultry, to the APPG on Carers. (You can find the current list of APPGs, and their members here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/211006/register-211006.pdf.)
While I am an ‘officer’ of many APPGs, so I can stay up to date with the ongoing discussion on these subjects in Parliament, it is to the APPG on Left Behind Neighbourhoods that I dedicate the most time and effort.
APPG on Left Behind Neighbourhoods https://www.appg-leftbehindneighbourhoods.org.uk/
Feeding into my work on Levelling up, social mobility, and tackling regional inequality, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to co-chair the APPG for Left Behind Neighbourhoods with Dame Diana Johnson MP. The focus of this APPG is to identify what a ‘left behind neighbourhood’ is, what makes it left behind, how it has come to be left behind, and policy solutions to address this inequality in localities.
The APPG is a collaboration between myself, the other invested MPs, and the charity Local Trust, who do the research and reports for us, for which I am extremely grateful. The Local Trust do so much in-depth research which transform the concept of social mobility from ‘a great idea’, into in-depth facts, figures and arguments which can be put to central government, local government, businesses, and other charities so that they can create policy which is informed and effective.
By bringing this research to the APPG, parliamentarians have been able to debate and understand the relative importance of ideas such as improving transport to areas, to widen their geographical opportunities and investing in ‘social infrastructure’ – things such as community centres and facilities – to stop social isolation and to bring communities together.
I have three identified left behind communities in my constituency, which means my work for the APPG both goes towards influencing national social mobility policy, but also works to identify solutions for places in which my own constituents live, and will hopefully have direct positive impacts for the people whom I represent.
As part of my role, I have lobbied ministers on social issues, I have spoken at events such as the Launch of the Commission on Prosperity and Community Placemaking, and have brought together different charities and businesses who together, can enact real change in the lives of those who’s neighbourhoods have been chronically underfunded and overlooked.