Only someone living on Mars could not have noticed that it has been a rather difficult couple of weeks for the Government. The only thing for a backbench MP to do in these circumstances is to keep on keeping on. And so I have. It has been a really busy couple of weeks. I have received lots of letters from you all on many different subjects, made two substantive speeches about housing problems in Newham and contributed to a number of other debates.
But the thing that revives flagging spirits the most is meeting people. In the last two weeks I have held two coffee mornings and met a large number of constituents. I used their experiences to form the content of my debate in the Housing and Regeneration debate last week, and I thank those people for the time spent talking to me.
Last Saturday I was also at the opening of a lovely new Unitarian Church in Stratford, the AGM of the Shpresa Programme, a fabulous voluntary group for the Albanian=speaking community and a brick-signing event at the Memorial Community Church in Plaistow. The Church is seeking to raise a substantial amount of money to restore its building. Although they have been awarded in principle a grant of £132,000 from English Heritage, they still need to raise much more. They hit upon the innovative idea of asking for people to buy a brick to put into the soon-to-be restored Towers. I was very happy to part with my cash and literally help to begin rebuilding a centre of the Plaistow community which has served the area so well for so many years. Find out more and buy a brick yourself at http://www.mbcplaistow.org/development.htm.
The voluntary sector in our borough is thriving and vibrant. There are so many people involved, giving selflessly of their time and talent. And they act locally to impact on the global big issues of the day.
This week the We Are What We Do campaign has launched another competition. The campaign is part of a global movement centred locally in Newham which encourages youth involvement in the wider world, and has sparked off great ideas from Newham schoolchildren since it started in October.
It asks every young person in the UK to answer the question… What would you ask one million people to do to change the world? I have my own ideas, of course, but I am a little above the age limit. This is the same campaign that produced the I’m NOT a Plastic Bag bag and the international best seller, Change the World for a Fiver – which I gave the Prime Minister for Christmas.
This national competition closes in two weeks on 19 December. It is scouring the UK for the next generation of simple, small actions that have the power to bring about big change. The winning entry will be turned into a massive national campaign in 2008 to inspire as many as one million people to action – and it is based right here in Newham.
I know from my little niece, who is only three, that (and forgive me for this Lord of the Rings reference) the smallest people can make the biggest changes, and when she is older I know she will keeps her Aunty Lyn’s finger on the eco-pulse.