6 March 2018
Jesse’s Hereford Times column: Thank you

When trouble comes, there are always some who turn towards it. So it was last week amid the horrendous weather. Across the county communities were kept going—and some people literally kept alive—not just by our magnificent emergency services, but by the kindness and energy of local volunteers helping others out in all the snow. 

On Saturday I had the chance to go out with the amazing team at Hereford Homeless Winter Support.  We visited Robert, Derek and Sagi (I hope I have spelled his name right) and gave them a hot meal at the Rocket Cafe, thanks to the proprietor Ben who has set up a donation scheme to help the homeless. Then we picked up a lot of bags of clothes and bedding and took them over to Steve, Paul, Jessie and others in their tents. And we rescued a lot of cars that had got stuck in the snow as well. 

For me, it was a very valuable, humbling and moving experience. There is so much more to do. But to Jo, Lucy, Gideon and Alice at HHWS—THANK YOU. 

I also want to thank some people a little closer to home. 

Readers will have seen last week how I and my staff were able to intervene to stop the deportation of James Gannon, who was detained by Border Force officials who wrongly believed he was visiting the UK to play professional rugby and who immediately booked him on a return flight to the United States.

I only heard the night before. James was due to be put on a flight back to the US at 10.30am and it wasn’t until 9.58am that we had confirmation he would not be deported. James was literally turned around while en route to the plane.

I had the pleasure of seeing him in action a few weeks later at the Rugby Club, and am thrilled that he was able to stay—and play—here in Hereford.

Cases like this raise wider lessons to be learned. Like any complex system the Government does not always get it right; what matters is that it should have the capacity to correct itself. And it was fantastic to get a positive outcome in this case for James, but it is just one of a far larger number of constituency cases which must remain anonymous because of the need to preserve confidentiality.

So here’s to our unsung heroes!  Without the help of my fantastic staff in Hereford and London this would not be possible. I pay tribute to my team of Gill, Susie, Wendy and Freddie, who between them help hundreds of people every year without getting the recognition they deserve. Again—THANK YOU.