24 April 2014
Hereford Journal: In praise of volunteers

People tend to think of Members of Parliament in general as a bunch of high-falutin’ types who like nothing better than hearing the sound of their own voices jaw-jawing relentlessly away in the House of Commons.

Well of course there are more than a few like that. But scratch most MPs and they will tell you that by far the most interesting and rewarding part of their work is done in the constituency, helping with the 1,001 issues that local people face, from potholes to benefit claims to crime to homelessness.

In Herefordshire we have a truly amazing range of local charitable organisations already dealing with these issues, and last Friday I was privileged to spend time with the staff—almost all women, as it happens—of three of them: Home Start, Yeleni Support and Rose Tinted Rags.

Home Start gives practical advice and assistance to families with young children, who can struggle to balance childcare with the demands of family and work. A particular focus of theirs is on helping with debt problems—a real issue in a low-wage county like ours.

Yeleni Support offers a range of non-medical therapies to those with chronic illness or cancer—a huge tonic for soul and body, at a time when people are often feeling incredibly vulnerable and stressed out.

And Rose Tinted Rags is a temple to recycled fabrics, haberdashery, textiles, buttons… working with schools and disabled groups to re-use and recreate virtually everything that can be sewed.

So: thank you Mandie, Barbara, Diane, Alison, Vicki, Julian and Peter; thank you Nicky and Kate; thank you Tina, Karen and Ali. And Journal readers, please give them your support!