10 JUL 2017

Coastal Scene Column - 7th July 2017

"Last summer, one of my Parliamentary colleagues, Jo Cox, who a few days beforehand had been part of the team I captained in the Parliamentary Tug of War, was so tragically murdered. Before her death Jo set up the Loneliness Commission to raise awareness of the issue and to work to try and reduce the stigma of being lonely. The Commission now continues her work in her name. A recent British Red Cross survey found that one in five people said they always or often felt lonely. It's something I often see in see here in Suffolk, so I was proud to meet the Commission recently and sign a pledge to support its work to tackle loneliness. The Commission is working with Government, businesses and voluntary groups and will shortly make recommendations. However we can all play our part. Loneliness is a problem in every street and within every family. That means all of us can do something to make someone feel less lonely today. We can start a conversation with a neighbour who we know is on their own, pick up the phone to a relative or friend you haven't spoken to for a while or say hello to someone in the supermarket queue. Let's all make a pledge to tackle loneliness.

I'm highly concerned to hear more reports that the East of England Ambulance Service is pressing ahead with plans to create super hubs at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester, which would leave no ambulances stationed here in east Suffolk at all. I'm worried that the considerable and long awaited progress the Ambulance Trust has made in getting people in rural areas the appropriate medical care on time will be put at risk by this proposal. Especially in relation to the Stroke 60 target, where patients suffering a stroke have to get to hospital within 60 minutes to maximise their ability to recover. I have written to the Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service, Robert Morton outlining my significant concerns and have asked him for a full update. I am also arranging another meeting for ambulance bosses to come to Westminster so we can quiz them on their plans.

Finally, I'm looking forward to joining David Sheepshanks tomorrow (Saturday) at the official opening of the new clubhouse and changing pavilion at the Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe and Walton United FC. The home side are then playing an exhibition match against an Ipswich Town XI. Grassroots football is the bedrock of our national game. Let's all get behind it."

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