MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week I organised a meeting for an award-winning local charity with the Prisons Minister to discuss their views on how prisoners can best be rehabilitated and readied for re-introduction into society.

Jobs, Friends & Houses takes ex-offenders who have struggled with a range of issues – including addiction, mental health problems and homelessness – and gives them work, a positive support network and somewhere to live. The organisation uses the experiences of staff members to ensure people avoid the common pitfalls which can lead to re-offending.

I have previously highlighted the work the charity does in supporting people leaving prison and providing them with opportunities to work in the building trade to the Justice Secretary in the House of Commons.

So I was delighted to be able to arrange for two of the directors to meet Andrew Selous MP to talk about their success stories and ways in which they may be replicated nationally.

This weekend saw the annual Fylde Civic Sunday held in Lytham, with a procession through the streets followed by a service at St Cuthbert’s Church.

Civic Sunday is the Mayor’s first official church service after mayor-making and is one of the main traditions in Fylde’s civic calendar.

The procession was led by the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Christine Akeroyd and Miss Helen Akeroyd, and included a number of civic dignitaries from across Lancashire, as well as the civic party of councillors, members of the public and voluntary organisations.

It is always a highlight of the summer and we were blessed with excellent weather and a lot of public support as we walked through the streets on Sunday.

Later that evening, I happened to bump into two Fylde Olympians separately while out for dinner in Lytham.

Shelly Woods, from St Annes, is still one of the world’s most successful wheelchair athletes while Pat Sharples, from Lytham, was head coach of the 12-strong GB freeski team at Sochi 2014.

In Parliament, I then also had the honour of being asked to meet some of the returning competitors from the recent Invictus Games – a competition for wounded servicemen and women – on Tuesday as part of my role on the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces.

I am extremely proud of the success of all our athletes and am really looking forward to cheering on Great Britain during this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

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