Comment: Time to wear your poppy with pride

Iain Stewart
Iain Stewart
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THIS weekend is November 11, and it marks the 94th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

It is important we take the time to remember the sacrifices made by British military personal throughout history. The number of British soldiers who died in the First World War is estimated to be somewhere in the region of 700,000, but over two million men were wounded from 1914 to 1918.

The Royal British Legion was established in 1921 to care for those who suffered as a result and it is today the UK’s leading Armed Forces charity. Every year I join volunteers to sell poppies as part of the RBL’s biggest fundraising campaign, the Poppy Appeal. This year I will be in Bletchley on Queensway. I hope as many people as possible will join me in showing our gratitude to our armed services by wearing a poppy.

This month I spent some time visiting with City Counselling Centre and listening to the experiences of users of the Rethink Mental Illness service at Fern Grove. Emotional and mental illness has been stigmatised and in many cases people are reluctant to seek the help they need out of fear of being ostracised. The work being done by organisations like these two is vital in helping people with complex emotional or mental difficulties to live normal lives. Anybody can suffer from mental health problems. National studies suggest that in the UK, about one in 10 young people may experience a mental health problem or disorder where they may need help from a mental health specialist.

Mental health conditions can range from things like posttraumatic stress, depression and anxiety, to more complex psychotic conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Many conditions can be treated or managed effectively with the right support and it is important people feel able ask for help early on. I would like to pay tribute to the work done by both City Counselling Centre and Rethink in supporting good mental health in MK.

In the run-up to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, I spent time listening to business owners to understand what successes and challenges their businesses faced. I attended two separate business events hosted by Barclays Bank and Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce respectively.

There has been an increase in start-up businesses and SMEs, and many of the owners indicated that different approaches are needed to sustain this category of the economy since they are the businesses of the future. There are many positives to take from the local economy but I do appreciate there are also concerns. Many businesses are concerned about the impact of high fuel prices on their ability to recruit more staff, for example. These are points that I will be making to the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement.

I have also been continuing my programme of street surgeries. I met residents of Shenley Wood Retirement Village, as well as taking questions from shoppers on Stony Stratford High Street. I will be running street surgeries on November 24 in Woburn Sands, Stony Stratford and Bletchley. Specific times and locations will be advertised on my website shortly.


Tel: 01908 686830