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Leigh On Sea News: Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Leigh On Sea News: Westminster Report – BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

IT has been a fantastic fortnight for seeing Southend recognised in Parliament, and for bringing Parliament to Southend.

As part of UK Parliament Week, I was honoured to make visits to three different schools to talk to them about politics and life as MP.

UK Parliament Week (or UKPW) is an incredible initiative, which seeks to enhance local engagement in national politics, saw Ms Firth visit Southend High School for Boys, Kingswood School and St Michaels to talk with the students about their views for the future, and to discuss the ways in which they can be best represented.

I am always awed by the vision and tenacity of the young people in our community, and UKPW has offered an amazing opportunity to meet with schools in addition to my more frequent visits within the community more generally. It is vital that young people continue to be engaged in politics throughout their school careers, as recent studies have shown that this is how they go on to make the changes that they want to see.

I was particularly excited that the SHFB event was organised closely with student Raya, who participated in my summer work experience programme. Robust and genuine discussions were had across the board, with Kingsdown School, now housed back on site in demountable classrooms, keen to highlight just how much they wanted to get full on-site use of their school back.

At St Michaels, in addition to meeting with their school council, I had the pleasure of watching their remembrance observations, and Head Boy Deacon and Head Girl Grace were hugely impressive – as were the students and School Council members I spoke with.

I have had a fantastic UK Parliament Week engaging with our young people, all of whom have been incredibly informed and excited about today’s political world. It has been wonderful to get to take the time to speak with students about what matters most to them, and to add texture about just what it means to be an MP. It has been an incredibly enjoyable week, and I look forward to seeing many of our students in the Commons and in Westminster before too long.

I was also delighted to bring Nick Parr, Director at Cliffs Pavilion, to 10 Downing Street to celebrate the enormous cultural impact that the theatre has on Southend, and to discuss the opportunities that the Levelling Up programme will deliver for businesses and venues like these. Cliffs Pavilion, which is the largest purpose-built performing arts venue in Essex, hosts an incredible array of performances, ranging from Beverley Knight at 50, Pink Floyd and a Pie, Mash and Quiz Event, so there really is something for everyone.

The Levelling Up programme has so far seen 101 towns across England receive £2.4 billion from the Towns Fund to unleash their economic potential, and the £830 million Future High Streets Fund has gone towards regenerating 72 towns and high streets to help them recover from the pandemic.

Additionally, a £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund has gone towards helping museums, theatres, cinemas and heritage organisations post-pandemic.

In the spirit of preserving Southend’s culture, I was also very privileged to attend the Endeavour Trust’s AGM, which has been running since 2001 and does incredible work in preserving one of our most beautiful pieces of living history.

I love my trips aboard the Endeavour, and am so excited to be part of the dedicated group that works so hard to keep her afloat. Given that she was one of the six ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ that sailed from Leigh, rescuing 1000 troops, we could do far worse than to keep her with us as part of our dedication to those who gave so much.

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