I recently hosted an Apprenticeship and Jobs Fair in Chelmsford at Anglia Ruskin University. atmosphere was buzzing with a fabulous line up of different employers exhibiting, from engineering and financial services to construction, health and beauty, communications, professional services, care, hospitality, local government, even space science and the military.
During the event, many people young and old came to find out opportunities to earn while you learn in and around Chelmsford. It was particularly good to meet many students from different secondary schools, particularly those in year 11 and 13 who were clearly thinking deeply about what they will do after finishing exams next summer. This is the second time I have hosted such an event and it does take a huge amount of organisation. However it also helps so many people, so I am determined this will be an annual event.
I was at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester when I received the excellent news that Chelmsford has been awarded £550,000 to improve safety especially in the Bunny Walks area.
The grant is from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund which focuses on improving safety for women and girls. Chelmsford’s award is one of the largest in the country. The funding will pay for improved CCTV and lighting in key locations. The grant application was co-ordinated by our Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst and supported by myself.
It will also support increased youth work in the community, help create “safe spaces” for women and girls across the city, and provide funding for the Chelmsford’s SOS bus, and our Street Pastors as well as targeted work to reduce harmful sexual behaviours. There will also be a £20,000 grant to fund a bespoke focused on tackling violence against women and girls which will be run by students at Anglia Ruskin University. A small portion of the grant will go towards additional security fencing in areas adjacent to the prison to deter criminals from launching parcels of drugs over the prison walls. I am hugely grateful to all the local residents who spoke to me about this issue, especially to Springfield resident James Tyrrell who has led local campaigning on this issue.
I visited Chelmsford Prison along with fellow Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin to meet the new Governor. A recent inspection of the prison resulted in a very critical report especially regarding the worryingly high levels of violence. My focus of my visit was to better understand the work that is taking place to change and improve the culture so that the prison becomes a less violent place for both staff and inmates. The Prison is notably cleaner and tidier than when I visited in the spring, security checks have strengthened, family visits have re-commenced and a new 16 week mentoring programme is starting soon. There is also improved assessments of inmates on their “first night”, which is leading to better support for mental health issues. This is good progress but there is a long journey to go.
I was very honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to take on a Ministerial role in the Foreign Office as part of the recent reshuffle. This will mean some overseas trips to represent the UK abroad, but please do follow my Facebook page for local updates and email me if you need help or advice. My email is email@example.com.