Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Street Children Welcome Umubano to Summer School

When we arrived in Makeni, north of Freetown, we were struck by its beauty despite the chaotic environment and harsh surroundings.

The Street Child of Sierra Leone (SCoSL) Children’s Centre sits at the edge of town and provides educational and medical support to around 150 children. This sector of society is the most vulnerable, many of whom have lost their parents during the war, and they live on the streets of Makeni in one of the poorest counties in the world.

As part of Project Umubano we are running the summer school programme that aims to prepare the street children to enrol into schools in September.
In order to achieve this goal, we have been teaching subjects ranging from Maths to English and Social Studies. After our first six hour day, the whole school came together for a debrief. Many of the children expressed their gratitude and thanks for our help in teaching these subjects and for the effort that we have all made to visit them from the UK.

A lot of children explained how confident they now feel after having held a pen for the first time. Other children explained how they wanted to pass their school exams and become engineers, doctors and teachers.

The energy and thirst for knowledge amongst these children has impressed and touched us all, their curiosity and enthusiasm is humbling to say the least. These children have many problems ranging from the lack of food and fresh water to the threat of malaria and other life-threatening diseases. They lack the funds for basic necessities, as well as school fees, which will be provided by SCoSL once the school term begins in September.

The summer school aims to assess the level at which the children will re-enter education.

We were joined by Stephen O’Brien MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, who spoke frankly about the role that we can individually play to support this fundamental area.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Big Society in Action in Waddon

I write this blog to update Conservative Future members rather than my local residents who I represent in Waddon. However there is one story that I would like to share with you that involves a school in my ward.

For over two years, St Andrews High School in Warrington Road has been operating a successful extended schools cluster, the Waddon Inclusive Network with four local primary schools in the area. I had the pleasure of attending a litter pick that they organised at Duppas Park when I first became elected and saw how supportive the older pupils were to the younger ones.

This is an example of the Government’s Big Society agenda in action as pupils at St Andrews High School had to give up their time outside of school to provide after school and holiday activities for younger pupils.

Recently they have strengthened their bond with St Andrews Church and hope to run an outreach programme there, which will help the elderly and young people in the local area build their skills.

In September they are launching a new project that will see the school link up with a local pupil referral unit. This initiative aims to help young people with the transition from primary to secondary school.

Headteacher David Matthews said: “We think we’ve got a really good model at St Andrew’s for growing the citizens of the future. We’re looking to run lots of activities that children can commit themselves to. If the Big Society is going to work, it’s going to be about forging good relationships with people living nearby.”

Local MP Richard Ottaway visited the school and was very impressed with the benefits that the pupils and local community feel from the projects. He concluded by stating: The ‘Big Society is certainly flourishing here in Waddon and I wish them all the best with their future plans.”

Richard Ottaway MP visiting St Andrew's High School pupils 

I commend the school for these initiaitves and wish them every success with their outreach programme and encourage other organisations in Waddon to strengthen their relationships with the local community in this way.

To read more click here 

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Ronald Reagan Legacy

Conservative Future members owe a great deal to both Ronald Reagan and Lady Thatcher for what they achieved. Whether they were fighting the tyranny of Communism or laying the foundations of good, solid, traditional Conservative principles – both shone on the world stage and made the special relationship truly special. 

Today, outside the American Embassy for the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue, we were reminded of the battles that these great leaders fought on our behalf. It was moving to see Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State for the USA and William Hague, current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the UK standing shoulder to shoulder, signifying the strong bond between our two countries today. Before the unveiling of the statue began Hague stated how “honoured” he was to personally take part in a ceremony “for a man who changed the political landscape at the time when I first became involved in it.”

Unfortunately Lady Thatcher was unable to attend due to health reasons but Hague read out the following words on her behalf: “Ronald Reagan was a great President and a great man - a true leader for our times. He held clear principles and acted upon them with purpose. Through his strength and his conviction he brought millions of people to freedom as the Iron Curtain finally came down. It was a pleasure to be his colleague and his friend and I hope that this statue will be a reminder to future generations of the debt we owe him.”

A big thank you to the The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation for inviting us to this very special and memorable occasion. Whatever the challenges ahead, today we were reminded that the special relationship will endure and that Britain and America have a shared history and unbreakable bond.