I just thought I would post to let you know what I've been up to this week.
My main priority has been trying to get my office up and running so that people get a first class service here in the constituency. Once I have recruited staff in coming weeks and sorted out all the office systems I hope we will give you the service you deserve. I promise to keep in regular touch as your MP and to give you timely responses to all your enquiries, and do my best to help solve your problems. To give you some idea of the volume of correspondence we are receiving, the other day it took me 2 hours just to open my post - that was just opening the envelopes, not including reading it! We should be properly up and running soon so please bear with us.
On Monday we had the hustings for the Parliamentary Labour Party (the Labour MPs). All the candidates were impressive. I'm backing Andy as I believe he is the best candidate to reach people who didn't vote for us this year, while also remaining true to our values. I hope Jeremy Corbyn gets on the ballot paper too, as members deserve the widest choice and our party needs all its voices to be heard.
On Monday I also attended a 'drop in' event organised by a number of Carers charities to find out how to access advice and support for people who need it in the constituency. I then sat in for the Scotland debate in the Chamber for the rest of the day.
Tuesday - I was delighted to welcome pupils from Sacred Heart, Redcar Academy and Rye Hills School to Parliament. They got a tour and were able to sit in on a debate in the chamber. And then they got to listen to me waffle on about why voting matters and why its important for them to get involved in politics!
I met with other female Labour MPs to talk about what issues we want to campaign on, including tackling violence against women, cuts to childcare and the HomelessPeriod campaign.
I popped into a briefing on air pollution, which, although it was mainly focused on traffic pollution, has important implications for the issue of industrial air pollution in our area.
I then attended a briefing from the Industrial Communities Alliance which focused on how older industrial communities are no benefiting from the 'recovery' like London and the south east are, and the economic gap is widening.
Wednesday - I was delighted to meet constituent Samantha Taylor who won a national award in Vocational Qualifications for her Healthcare Support Services at James Cook Hospital - we're all really proud of her! We timed their tour well to get a glimpse of the Speaker and others as they paraded into the House for the start of the day's business.
It was then time for the bizarre bear-pit that is PMQs. I'm not a fan of the braying and heckling, but Tom Blenkinsop got a really important question in to the PM on the proposed steel strikes. He got little interest from Cameron in his response.
I attended a reception from the RNIB about making our streets more accessible for the visually impaired - there were some very cute guide dogs in attendance!
We then had the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel to discuss the potential steel strike - the first for 35 years which shows how serious this is. We met with the Chief Executive of Tata Europe to encourage them to return to the negotiating table, and look again at their pension proposals.
The rest of the day I spent in the Chamber listening to the debate on housing which Labour had called to discuss the current housing crisis, and we had votes on our motion at 7pm.
Thursday I was lucky to have had my question called in the ballot for Transport Questions. After the Secretary of State had answered my 'tabled' question asking essentially what recent assessment his department had made of the privatisation of the railways (the franchise system), I took the opportunity to ask a supplementary about the Level Crossing on West Dyke Road in Redcar and asked him to join me in urging Network Rail to bring their upgrade forward urgently.
Then I was off to get the train back to Redcar, where I spent the evening going through the casework that had come in from people needing help with issues while I was in London. This week I have also had a lot of correspondence about fox-hunting, bees, and seals!
Friday was spent interviewing for my constituency office staff before heading off to Newcastle to pre-record the BBC Sunday Politics Show which was shown this morning.
Sorry that's a bit of a long post, but I just wanted to stay in touch with what I've been up to so you can see how I spend my time in Parliament! I'm not sure what an average week looks like yet, but it's certainly been busy so far. Do stay in touch on the issues that matter to you.