Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column: A sense of community

Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham | other
This week we celebrate Volunteer’s Week and it feels like the most pertinent time to do so.

I want to pay tribute to all those that participate in voluntary organisations in and around Burnley.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen so many people and organisations go above and beyond to help those in need and I’m immensely proud that we as a community have come together to help each other in the way we have.

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From helping vulnerable people with shopping or medicine to being a voice on the end of a phone for those who are shielding, it has brought out the best of our borough.

I know that like me, many of you will have felt an enormous amount of pride when two local organisations were recognised with the highest voluntary award – The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service earlier this week.

Belvedere & Calder Vale Sports Club and Fulledge Colts Youth FC are rightly being recognised for their work within the community and all involved should be proud of this fantastic achievement.

Over the course of this week I’ve been thinking about how we can go further and recognise every single person who is making a difference during this time, supporting others across Burnley, Padiham and all our villages. With that in mind I have launched an .

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Most of us will know one person who has gone that extra mile and so I hope to see a significant number of nominations come in. If you have someone you want to nominate, please visit my website at www.antonyhig.co.uk/unsung-heroes.

I will be working with local businesses to make sure we can say thank you to everyone properly. If you think you can help with that please do let me know.

This week has also seen Parliament resume physically, with several new measures put in place to make the building Covid-secure. These measures include limiting attendance in the House of Commons Chamber to just 50 MPs, clear signage and floor markings across the whole building, and hand sanitizer stations placed throughout. Making these adaptations to a building as old as Parliament will have been no small task and the authorities have done a great job.

We also had to undertake the first physical vote whilst social distancing. For those who do not follow politics closely, votes used to take place by MPs entering a division lobby and casting your vote on the way out. As this would not be possible whilst staying 2m apart an alternative system had to be put in place.

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This involved a queue forming throughout the Parliamentary building with MPs spaced 2m apart as we filed into the Chamber to announce how you would vote.

There were inevitable teething problems with this, but overall it did work, and I have no doubt improvements will be made over time. It did highlight though how important physical voting is, with me able to catch the ear of Ministers to raise some of the issues we are having locally and how we can ensure these are addressed.

We still have a long way to go until this pandemic is beaten, but we are adapting. Workplaces are being transformed and we are regaining some of our day-to-day lives.