Opinion: ‘Surgeries allow me to support you’

Peterborough’s MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

Friday, 5th November 2021, 2:15 am
The surgey in Asda

One of the joys of my job is meeting local people, businesses and organisations. It’s why I went ahead with my drop-in surgery at the ASDA in the Rivergate Centre last Friday. It’s up to every MP to decide how to undertake constituency surgeries without judgement. But this is the most important part of my job. I can’t hide away and won’t.

The best way to honour the memory of my friend, Sir David Amess, is trying to follow his example of being visible, hard working and approachable.

ASDA were great hosts and explained some of their community work. Their Green Token scheme, which is currently an online vote, awards a first prize of £500 to a local cause. There’s another £200 each for two runners up. Organisations can get involved by emailing: [email protected]

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Like many businesses I meet, ASDA are also recruiting. Peterborough has hundreds of job opportunities right now, both full and part-time, across every range of skills. It’s a really positive sign.

Meanwhile, my list of surgery venues keeps growing. I have held them in supermarkets, pubs, church halls and even the McDonald’s in Cathedral Square. If you have a suggestion for where to hold my next drop-in surgery, please get in touch.

So much good work goes on in our city which I only manage to discover by getting out and about. For example, I recently met the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

I had no idea how much funding they are channelling towards Peterborough’s charities and local groups. Essentially, they are a kind of philanthropic bridge across Cambridgeshire raising money from donors and then providing local grants which are focused on our voluntary sector. Since 2004, the foundation has awarded a staggering £23 million in grants and built a permanent endowment worth over £8 million.

That’s a lot of donations. This growth in philanthropy, matching generous people and organisations with some of our region’s most important causes, is a remarkable success. They fully deserve a plug in this column.

Although they are part of a national network of 46 foundations, the foundation relies on a small team of seven staff and 30 volunteers. Yet they manage to distribute over 700 grants each year to a huge variety of projects.

These projects include work to tackle homelessness, to support people overcoming health challenges, to increase wellbeing and to help people live independently. Increasingly, the foundation’s grants are also supporting projects to improve our environment and community assets.

It’s impressive stuff, now worth a record £3.7m in annual grants for Cambridgeshire. Better still, the foundation wants to do more in Peterborough specifically, raising both local awareness of their work and their activity level in our city.

I am pleased to say that Peterborough City Council is doing its bit to help. They have partnered with the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to establish the Peterborough Think Communities Fund. The first round of applications has just closed. Grants from £500 to £5,000 will be awarded this December to local projects, all based around community resilience and our environment. This should make a tangible difference to many people’s lives.

You can read more about the foundation’s work and how to donate or apply for funding here: https://www.cambscf.org.uk/home.html

I’m so happy to see work like this in progress. Too much goes unsung or unnoticed. That’s why doing my job is such a pleasure. I get to meet Peterborough’s silent heroes and can share their news with you.