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MP for Stamford and Bourne Gareth Davies meets a guide dog

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Across the hundreds of meetings I have had as an MP I am not sure any has been as pleasant as meeting Beau, an impeccably trained guide dog who visited parliament as part of the “All Things Equal” campaign run by the Guide Dogs charity. I have used this column in recent weeks to highlight the excellent work currently underway to champion disability rights and so I was delighted to lend my support to the campaign, writes Gareth Davies MP for Stamford and Bourne.

Recent research conducted for Guide Dogs found that 69 per cent of teachers lack confidence that they have the right skills to support disabled children, including those with a vision impairment, to reach their full potential.

This is reflected in outcomes for children with sight loss, who are significantly behind their peers in terms of academic attainment leading to only one quarter of people with sight loss entering employment. The critical role of specialist professionals needs to be prioritised, and more support should be given at an earlier stage to help prevent young people with sight loss from falling behind.

Gareth Davies with a Guide Dog
Gareth Davies with a Guide Dog

The month of May is Local and Community History month, so I got ahead slightly when I visited the nearby Flag Fen Archaeological Park in April with my parliamentary colleague Paul Bristow MP to learn about our Bronze Age predecessors and view some artefacts which are unbelievably well preserved over thousands of years. We are blessed with a rich local heritage, and I would encourage readers to visit fantastic places such as Browne’s Hospital and Burghley House this month.

Last week the Lakeside Healthcare Stamford Patient Participation Group (PPG) - the body which serves as the link between patients and the practice - held their AGM at the Town Hall. While I was not able to attend as I was voting in Westminster, I am told that the meeting was very well attended and provided a forum for users of the GP services to have their say about recent experiences accessing care at Lakeside practices.

The Care Quality Commission is expected to publish their findings of their reinspection of Lakeside premises shortly, following on from last year’s inspection which rated overall provision as ‘inadequate’. I am following this closely and will update all interested constituents as soon as I have heard from the commission.

In the last month we have had the roll-out of the £150 council tax rebate, and I was pleased to read that 29,000 people have now received this support in South Kesteven. This follows the announcement in March of an extra £5m for Lincolnshire’s Household Support Fund, with one-third ring-fenced to support families with children, and another third dedicated to pensioners.

While support is certainly welcome in the short-term, it is important not to take our eye off of the changes which can have a positive impact in the long-term. For instance I was pleased that, following a consultation, proposals were published last week to reform regulations and allow the UK insurance industry to invest billions of pounds into future UK infrastructure.

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