Geographically, Buckingham is a rather large constituency but in spite of its rurality, and the great distances which sometimes separate one settlement from its nearest neighbour, I am repeatedly struck by the strong sense of community I observe when I visit local towns and villages. Whether you look to the Princes Centre in Princes Risborough, the Haddenham Community Library, The Shop in North Marston or the numerous Cub, Scout, Brownie and Guide groups around the constituency, it is truly inspiring to see what can be achieved when local people work together.
March, in particular, will see us welcome the first birthday of a fantastic community asset in Buckingham: The Centre @ Verney Close. The Centre, which I had the honour of opening last year provides a huge range of support for local people from all walks of life. For example, every weekday The Centre runs ‘Coffee and Company’ drop-in sessions for members of the community – particularly those who may spend a lot of time by themselves throughout the rest of the week – to meet, have a chat and enjoy the company of others. Among many other activities, The Centre offers a support group for young carers, a fellowship group for ex-carers, a ‘Gentle Exercise Group’ for those recovering from traumatic illnesses and art therapy classes. What’s more, The Centre also offers 48 hour emergency accommodation and support for the homeless in Buckingham, and acts as a collection point for Samara’s Aid Appeal.
The Centre, like so many organisations around the constituency, is run by volunteers, and depends on local people for its survival. It is clear for all to see that the team behind The Centre is incredibly hard working, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all those involved the most heartfelt of congratulations on a stunningly successful first year. Here’s to the next twelve months which, I am sure, will see The Centre go from strength to strength.
First published in the Buckingham Advertiser on 24th February 2017.