SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Communities – everyone included

Mental Health Awareness Week runs until Saturday
Mental Health Awareness Week runs until Saturday
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It is a great start to the week when I can be in Arun and Worthing while keeping up at Westminster.

All week, the Rev Dr Hazel Sherman’s West Worthing Baptist church is sharing thoughts and actions on climate justice.

On Monday my talk started with the lesson I gained from Baroness Richardson, the first female president of the Methodist Conference and moderator of the Free Churches Council.

She said that ecumenism is not just the Christian churches coming together.

At best it is the whole of humankind, all faiths, all people.

Economic activity presently creates the carbon dioxide which is strongly associated with global warming and with weather extremes.

It will be the vulnerable who suffer first; it will be the vulnerable who suffer most.

One example is the poor population of Haiti, hit by Hurricane Matthew.

I spoke about how we can grow from thinking of ourselves at the centre of our community, country, world and universe into considering ourselves as part of the many who together can reduce risks and harm for others as we aim properly to do the same for ourselves.

There are benefits for all with sustainability, renewables, clean water, clean air, liveable cities, saved rainforests and continued bio-diversity.

Some at that meeting had first supported Worthing’s Mental Health Awareness Week at the Offington Park Methodist Church where I saw one person receive welcomed practical advice.

There were stalls showing the activity and help available from well-known organisations and through local projects. The exhibition is open until midday on Saturday.

All agencies need to remember and when possible to involve the family of a troubled individual.

That evening at a fine Austrian Embassy gathering I was with a British diplomat, now Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, who met me as an Employment Minister in 1984 when I was speaking to our Labour Attaches.

On Tuesday I was in Ferring’s St Andrew’s Church with local representatives of WADARS, the animal rescue charity, and of the admired Country Centre, as Susan Pyper, Lord Lieutenant in West Sussex, presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Ferring Conservation Group.

Other officers and committee members may know that Ed Miller was at the Department of Employment when I served there.

I respect his commitment to the village, especially on planning issues.

We are fortunate in the public spirited people who work for national and for local government.

The priest Rev Gary Ingram said quietly that no one ever needed to be lonely in the village.

Later in the week I shall be listening to our NHS Trusts and to the West Sussex county councillors.

My role combines trying to assist individuals and to help make better the systems that affect them.

It was a joy to hear at the weekend from a constituent that my representations and reference may have made a difference in resolving a problem with the regulating authority.

When I was asked recently about the reasons to be an active Member of Parliament, I replied that there was quite some success, there is some fun and when I fail, it has been for a proper cause that matters.

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