It was a particular pleasure last week to get out and about in Horsham for a busy weekend of constituency engagements. MPs rightly focus time and energy in Parliament, especially on issues that produce fiercely differing views but for most Parliamentarians time spent with constituents engaged in business, charities or the community helps focus minds.
Engagements included meeting 6th Form students (the third such engagement in one week – but there’s a lot to discuss!); visiting one of Horsham’s leading software design companies – a clean, green, forward leaning sector in which Horsham is developing a strong reputation; popping in on the brilliant annual Fair Trade market and a fascinating meeting with the Horsham and Crawley Counselling Group. The HCCG (www.hccounselling.org.uk) is a Community Interest Company based in Oakhill Road, Horsham which provides counselling services for which people can self-refer. It is rated in the top ten percent of providers in its field nationally.
I also joined our Police Commissioner Katy Bourne and the Bishop of Chichester at Streetlight UK. In a challenging meeting Streetlight impressively explained how it provides a specialist support service for those seeking to escape from exploitative situations in Sussex, Surrey and London. Often the victims of human trafficking, individuals can find themselves trapped and exploited in forms of modern slavery from which it is hard to escape.
A few months ago, I met with one of my younger constituents, Jacob, who is passionate about reducing plastic waste and its impact on the Oceans. We raised his concerns with national supermarkets and on Friday visited Horsham’s Waitrose store where the Branch Manager explained the positive steps they are taking. Going round both front and back of store we saw the efforts being made to reuse and recycle packaging and to reduce plastic wrapping. One simple step – asking customers to bring their own cups for their complimentary coffee is saving an estimated 52 million single use cups nationally a year. It was good to hear a positive story about consumer –led changes bringing a positive environmental outcome and also to meet a very committed and interested young campaigner.
Photo caption: Learning about recycling and reducing plastic usage at Horsham’s Waitrose.