Some of you may have seen a letter in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald from the Chair of Eden Carers raising a question about my support for Cumbrian voluntary organisations.
As someone who established and built a charity from scratch to 650 people, raising 12 million pounds, I would like to reassure you that the voluntary sector is particularly close to my heart.
Cumbrians have every reason to be proud of their voluntary organisations and government should do all in its power to encourage them.
Over the last two months we’ve responded to more than 200 emails from people connected to charities and charitable initiatives. This winter, I walked 350 miles, raising money for the Flood victims at Eamont Bridge through Penrith Lions. I have done recent events to raise money and awareness for the Calvert Trust, the RGS, Save the Children (Cumbria) and Hospice at Home, which many of you have attended. I have also supported a number of sponsored events (yesterday for example I joined a sponsored bike ride for Leukaemia with the Young Farmers and this summer I will be walking the length of the Eden for the Eden Rivers Trust).
I have also visited the offices, met staff and volunteers or attended events organised by perhaps fifty other Cumbrian voluntary organisations this year. It seems invidious to name them, but the following come to mind: the Air Ambulance (Pride of Cumbria at Langwathby), Eden Valley Hospice, Cumbria Cerebral Palsy, the Fell Runner Bus, Mountain Rescue (Kirkby Stephen), First Responders (Tebay), Upper Eden Community Plan, North Allerdale Development Trust, Warcop and Sandford Exchange, Bolton Exchange, Loveday House Residential Home, Wigton Youth Station, North Fells Association, Midtown House Residential Home, Friends of Brampton Cottage Hospital, Sustainable Brampton, Lanercost Cricket Club, Alston Youth Centre, Alston Community Links, the Federation of Cumbrian Commoners, Alston Toddler’s Group, Friends of Wigton Train Station, The Friends of the Butcher’s Arms Crosby Ravensworth, Crosby Ravensworth Affordable Housing, Friends of George and Dragon Garrigill, Cumbria Rural Housing Trust, Eden Housing Association’s Heughscar Close (Pooley Bridge affordable housing scheme), Friends of Newton Rigg, The Young Farmers, Pen Talk, Country Landowners’ and Business Association, Appleby Youth Centre, Age Concern Appleby, Northern Rock Foundation, Penrith Methodist Hall, Age Concern Penrith, and of course many Parish councils, and other people involved in voluntary work.
I have learned a huge amount from these organisations about the compassion, common sense, self reliance and effective delivery, which is so characteristic of the Cumbrian voluntary sector.
If I am lucky enough to be elected as MP for Penrith & the Border, I will of course continue to do much more to encourage the voluntary sector in Cumbria. If there is a particular charity that you believe needs support, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would also be very grateful if you could forward this e-mail, copying me, to any other Cumbrians who may be interested in the voluntary sector or who are keen to understand what an MP can do to lend it practical help or support.