Could you volunteer to go ‘back to school’?

Gordon Birtwistle

Gordon Birtwistle

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I was recently wrapping up more things in Parliament before conference recess begins.

Monday began with a meeting with Western Union. It was good to hear about the latest Western Union Business Solutions’ International Trade Monitor and I was pleased to learn nearly a quarter of SMEs engaged in international trade have grown by more than 10% in the last 12 months. This further evidences how important it is we remain in Europe, for trade is essential to grow and continue on from the recession we have seen in the past.

I also attended a rally on Kashmir, where people had come to discuss this ever-important issue.

Tuesday began with my attendance at a backbench application for a debate in October on “back to schools week”. The education charity Future First is leading a national campaign called Back to School Week in October and we would like a debate to coincide with this campaign. YouGov research found there are 10 million UK adults ready and willing to go back to their old school or college to volunteer, if they were asked.

While the issues of social mobility and careers guidance for young people have been discussed by the House of Commons during this Parliament, the issue of how to connect alumni and ordinary volunteers with state schools or colleges has never been raised. Nor has the national campaign Back to School Week, which could have a revolutionary impact for young people; creating a national culture of “go back, give back” for state schools and colleges. I was delighted this was successful.

I was also delighted to host the graduation ceremony event for Barclays again this year. It is always a fantastic occasion seeing the apprentices don their caps and gowns on the House of Commons terrace and I joined in with the feelings of pride along with their colleagues, line managers, and families.

My journey began with Barclays a year ago, when I was invited to visit a branch at Willesden Green, London. I was so impressed with the young individuals I met (including a particularly outstanding young lady called Constance) I thought they ought to host their graduation ceremony in the Houses of Parliament. The sun was shining and, as ever, the apprentices came across as very intelligent, switched on and smart young people who are a credit to the company. I hope Barclays will continue to provide these opportunities for years to come as they are leading the way in the finance sector with their commitment and enthusiasm for young people.

I also attended a “Wear It Pink” reception for the breast cancer campaign and it was great to see so many people there with some fun props to get our photos with and continue to pledge our support.

I was then back to Burnley and was very busy across the constituency. On Thursday I was at Burnley College for the launch of their IT Academy; absolutely fantastic new technology that will be great for the students.

I also met with meeting with Leader and Deputy of Lancashire County Council regarding the Care Act which they too welcome to ensure better care is provided for the people of Burnley and surrounding areas.

Friday was busy with constituent appointments and I was delighted to go to the opening of the new community centre on Coal Clough Lane. It is a fantastic new provision and over 400 people were there. The fabulous food, familiar faces and bouncy castles really made the day.