With a General Election campaign now underway, and because I am not standing again, this is my last column, writes Gloria De Piero.
I wanted to use it to reflect on the nine-and-a-half years I have been Ashfield’s MP, a job that I consider to be the greatest honour of my life.
Meeting and talking to Ashfield residents has changed me and how I view the world forever.
The period that I have been an MP has not been the easiest.
I have spent all that time in opposition.
However, I have helped thousands of local people with their problems and that has been the most satisfying aspect of the job.
Whether it be helping people plunged into poverty when their benefits have been suddenly stopped, securing care home places for vulnerable residents, getting Tylor Savage’s American fiancée a visa so their young family could be reunited or helping families like that of Kirkby’s Corah-Beth Slaney, who needed adaptations to their home so their daughter could enjoy her final days with loved ones in familiar surr-oundings, this work has made real differences to people’s lives.
I have also campaigned on issues which have genuinely moved me, like the case of the woman whose husband tried to kill her in a knife attack and is now trying to claim half of their joint assets during divorce proceedings from his prison cell.
There is also the ongoing fight for fairer pensions for former mine-workers and their widows and the heart-breaking struggle to get justice for Sutton woman Claire Martin, who was killed in Italy, and whose parents Pat and Ray are still trying to find out exactly what happened to her.
I have always tried my hardest to be a good MP but, on occasions where you feel I have fallen short, know that I have still tried.
I would not have been able to do the things I have done without the support of my amazing office staff.
And so I want to say thank you to Rachel Bissett, Helen Faccio, Joshua Hales and Jenny Richards who have kept my Kirkby office up and running.