We need to help children who get a bad start to life

Since my election in 2015 I have campaigned to ensure we advance the cause of social mobility, a cause I am passionate about. I recently asked the Prime Minister whether she would commission a national enquiry into ‘adverse childhood experiences’ and the impact these have on future life decisions and events.

Adverse experiences in childhood, which include sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental separation and living with alcoholism, to name a few, shape the futures of those who are too young to seek help for themselves.

According to Public Health England, children who encounter four or more of these events during childhood have a far greater risk of mental and physical health problems, suicide incarceration and violent tendencies. An enquiry would allow us to ensure that those affected by these tragic events get the support they need and ensure that no one is left behind and no child is held back due to events beyond their control.

I was alarmed with the recent rise in the number of unconditional offers given out by universities, which have increased from 3,000 in 2013 to 50,000 today. These offers are usually given with the stipulation that the student must put the university as their first choice as part of the application process. This stipulation can often lead to students underestimating themselves and picking a lower performing university or course which is not necessarily the best for them. I have spoken frequently on the need for greater value for money for university students and used a speech in Parliament to raise the issue of unconditional offers, which also affects student attainment and value for the fees they pay.

Here in the constituency I have been saddened by the recent announcement of Countrywide Stores going into administration, impacting workers in the Melksham branch. As a rural constituency with a close-knit farming community the closure would be of detriment to the town and all surrounding villages and I am meeting the staff to talk through their concerns and offer whatever support I am able.

As Parliament is in recess I will be running daily open surgeries across the constituency with no appointment necessary so I am able to meet and talk to as many constituents as possible. If you would like details of locations and times then please look out for these in the local press or call my office on 01249 704465 and I would be delighted to meet you and talk through any issues or concerns you may have.