Nothing's more important than simply listening
AS an MP, 'what do you do during recess?' often a question I get asked when out meeting people. For some, the fact that MPs aren't at the Houses of Commons in Westminster between the end of July and early September makes it look like we are all slackers, taking a month long holiday.
I sometimes think the less laws and regulations we make and impose on people the better, but the question about what MPs do with their time when Parliament isn't sitting deserves an answer.
As a local man who was born and grew up in the local area, Kingswood is very much my home and I can't wait to get back down to the patch.
The Summer recess gives me the opportunity to get on with things locally that unfortunately I can't simply do when in Westminster every Monday to Thursday.
For a start, there is the knocking on doors, a crucial part if any MPs job. While lots of people come through my doors to see me at my surgeries - I have one this Saturday at ASDA Longwell Green from 10-12 if anyone wants to bend my ear.
I often find that the only way to find what local people are thinking is to get out and speak to them face to face, knocking on their doors. It's a lengthy task, after all there are 70,000 people in Kingswood, and 35,000 doors. A lot of shoe leather to be worn. But by my last count, myself and my team have managed to speak to around 25,000 people and counting since we began taking records. Yesterday I was out in Emersons Green, talking to people about anything from sorting out a nearby road that needs repair to why we need to crack down on the abuse of the NHS and public services by foreign nationals who haven't paid tax.
Then there is the opportunity to get stuck in and do things that you wouldn't maybe find the time when Parliament is in session. This summer, I've taught a history lesson at a local primary school, and become registered as a volunteer at Cossham Hospital. I spent a morning speaking to patients at the brand new dialysis centre at the Hospital, which looks stunning after its £20 million makeover. Cossham remains a superb local resource for the local community, and I want to show my gratitude by getting out 'on the ward' to speak with patients first hand.
Of course MPs take a holiday. We all need to get the chance to recharge our batteries sometime, but I'm sure that, putting party politics aside, our local MPs will be out in their communities now, getting the chance to visit projects across their constituencies and getting to know their local area better.
Often it's easy to think politics is all about government and making laws - but it isn't. There is nothing more important than sometimes simply listening to what needs to be done. And it's only by being in contact with local people during summer months like this that MPs will be able to do a good job locally.