On Saturday night I took part in the Big Snore.
I was one of a group of volunteers who slept out overnight at the One Call stadium to raise funds from sponsors for the excellent charity Framework and to raise awareness of the plight of those who face street homelessness in our district.
One cold and uncomfortable night spent in the supportive company of friends cannot ever replicate the horror of those for whom street homelessness is a way of life. But it did bring home to me how desperate such an existence must be day in, day out.
A recent survey carried out found a 24 per cent increase in homelessness across Nottinghamshire. The same survey showed that Mansfield was the only area in the county showing an increase in the number of rough sleepers. This is a scandal in the 21st century.
There are many reasons why people fall into homelessness but underlying this massive problem is the lack of affordable housing in our country.
That is why one of my top priorities, if elected mayor, will be to increase house building in our district. This will not solve the problem of street homelessness overnight, but without addressing this acute lack of homes the situation will only get worse.
I was very pleased to meet up with Malcolm and Rachel Hall at the award winning Mansfield business Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies. This is a very successful family business that started in 2006 and has grown year on year despite some difficult economic times. I heard how their market extends to over 82 countries, supplying over 200,000 industrial products, substantially driven by the internet.
What also strikes me about Malcolm and Rachel is their commitment to putting something back into our community. I was aware of their fantastic charitable work, particularly in raising funds for the Fountaindale SEN School and Headway, the brain injury association. We also discussed the work they are involved with in inspiring young people to raise their aspirations, particularly working with the Mansfield Learning Partnership to take their message into secondary schools. Malcolm and Rachel sponsor many community initiatives with the aim of enhancing the employment skills of young people.
Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies is exactly the type of business that we need to move our district forward. We have the sites available, we have good transport links and we have a population with a tradition of hard work. I certainly shout out for Mansfield at every opportunity and it’s good to have such a fine example of what can be done .
I was honoured to speak at a public meeting this week in support of the NHS. We need all to be very concerned about what is happening to our health service under this government. Its policy is to sell off the NHS to large international corporations. The end result will be a service that is no longer free at the point of need, as the sole aim of these organisations is to make profit. Your vote can stop this destruction of the greatest institution this country has ever created.