With what glorious summer weather we were able to enjoy now seemingly at an end (remember June!), the House of Commons will return next week after the summer recess, and that common September “back to school” feeling will firmly take hold.
After a really enjoyable summer, where I balanced work with spending a lot more time in the constituency and with my family, it’s now time to gear up for the Autumn parliamentary term. I have a packed schedule of London, Hastings and Rye, and overseas engagements for the next month, in addition to my regular advice surgeries. I always enjoying travelling around my constituency and meeting local residents. And, for the new school year, I will begin again my programme of visits to local primary and secondary schools, where I look forward to meeting our area’s students and discussing their studies with them.
This summer has also been a great time for sport! England’s men regained the Ashes in a truly unpredictable series, although our women fell short despite some skilled performances; Chris Froome was triumphant in France; the athletics World Championships saw Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford all win gold for Great Britain, and Wimbledon did not fail to deliver its usual tension and drama. Yet there is more to come! England’s men will look to add to the fantastic achievement of our nation’s women, who were crowned rugby union world champions last year, when they compete for the 2015 World Cup on home turf over the next two months.
And sport is certainly thriving in Hastings and Rye too; Hastings United Football Club are taking the early steps on the “road to Wembley” and have won 4 out of their first 6 league matches while Hastings Seagulls Swimming Club are going from strength to strength and in the Sussex Cricket League Division 2, Hastings and St Leonards Priory are on course for promotion.
For those who have embarked upon successful careers in professional sport, their passion and journey did not start with the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Olympics; it begins in back yards, side streets and school playing fields and started with a helping hand from teachers, volunteer coaches, and mums and dads.
That means we must ensure that funding reaches those who can make a great difference in participation. There’s a large amount of money at the top of the sporting pyramid, but more needs to flow down to the lower levels that are so important for the future. I welcome the funding that has already reached our local organisations and sports clubs, for example the £6,000 grant awarded to Westfield FC by the Premier League and the FA. But we must do more.
Both local and national sports participation figures have declined recently and I would like to ensure that public funding is targeted at those local organisations who can deliver in encouraging people to get involved in sport and physical activity.
The Government has recently launched a consultation to look into this and the wider issues such as careers, investment, sports in schools and health benefits of physical activity. I would encourage anyone who wishes to have a say in what they want for the future of sport to participate in the consultation which closes on the 2nd October.
For me, Sport offers us something quite distinctive. It is about discovering talents you never knew you had; striving to be the best you can be. We must focus on projects that deliver social impacts- whether that is new skills for our younger people, better health for older people, less anti-social behaviour or more social cohesion.
I believe we can deliver all that, and a huge lot more.