Out and About

Usually I post about one of the things I've been up to in a day, but when I look back at the last couple of days I thought I'd just give you a taste of the kind of routine I have most weekends.

During the election people often said to me 'we'll never see you if you're elected...you'll disappear up to London and never come back'.That really hurt! The truth is that every day I'm at parliament I get more and more excited about coming back to Hove - I really do love living here and as an MP I get to see every aspect of life here and it's a total privilege to listen and learn from so many of the people living the challenges we face as a society every day.

I usually return to Hove on a Thursday evening. If I'm kept at parliament late then I sofa surf with friends in London. This Thursday I came home and went straight to a public meeting on fair trade where I gave a speech about my time working at The Body Shop in the 1990's and how far ethical trading has come since that time. Then I went on to do a TV interview on Europe where I talked about the positive future we face should we opt to remain in the EU.

On Friday I visited two local schools. The first was a junior school where I did a Q&A with Year 6 and I was stunned by the quality of questioning - it covered everything from nuclear disarmament to parking charges to ending youth unemployment. I loved every second of it. The second school was Cardinal Newman Catholic School (official), where students interviewed me for a film they are making on rough sleeping which they will submit to the BBC. Again, they quality of questions and dedication to excellence in film-making was a real credit to them and our community.

I visited the Bon Accord Nursing Homes in New Church Road on Friday too. I hosted my first debate in the Commons recently on state care for the elderly and I'm visiting national and independent care homes as I continue my work to improve funding, conditions for staff, and the quality of provision for elderly residents. The chairman of Four Seasons Care Homes also came to Hove to meet me so I could quiz him on the challenges faced by his sector. I met many of the residents too, one of had just had her 100th birthday!

After the visit I had five hours of advice surgeries at my office in Church Road. I saw a great number of people with some extremely challenging problems. This aspect of my job is often the most difficult as I sit with my team and we do our best to support people who are often in extreme distress.

Then it was off to Portslade where I toured the Brighton YMCA supported housing project. It was unbelievable and totally inspiring to meet people at different stages in their journey from rough sleeping to recovery, stability, skills development, and finally thinking about a future that has new opportunities. The staff was so knowledgeable and gave me a lesson on the housing benefit cap and its implications for vulnerable people that I will do my very best to champion even more passionately than before. Vulnerable people are voiceless and government policy is damaging their ability to recover and grow and it must be challenged.

Then I met Chris Henry, who manages my constituency office, for a late dinner at The Stoneham so we could catch up on the week's events and talk though the key issues we are facing and championing.

On Saturday I was up early for an event to promote the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. I met with representatives from other political parties - The Lib Dems, Greens, and Tories - and we gathered in Central Brighton and talked to passers by, carried out media interviews, and showed that the cause for staying in the EU is also a vote to change it for the better.

Then I was back to Portslade where I had a 'Meet Your MP' event at The Railway Inn in Station Rd. People came to discuss GP provision, the NHS, parking...lots of parking issues (!), the Brunswick Festival, local business support, road crossings, support for older people, and loads more issues too. I know that loads of people don't think politics is for them, but events like this show that people do engage if they have the chance. I also know it's my job to deliver support and change to prove to people that the effort they made to engage is worth it.

Today, Sunday, I've taken some time off. A walk along the beach in the beautiful Brighton and Hove sunshine followed by a workout at the gym...who wouldn't look forward to coming back from London for this?! I really hope you've had a great weekend and have enjoyed the weather too. All the best, Peter

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