Greenock Telegraph 4th December 2020

I have struggled these last few weeks and it’s been hard to put my finger on what the problem was. I knew it was almost certainly due to limited social mobility during the pandemic but exactly what and how to resolve it wasn’t clear. We are all, or should be, mixing far less within our communities but measuring the effect of that is difficult, it is by its very essence, intangible.

While contemplating my own conflict I had the opportunity to attend an outdoor community event where everybody was respectful of the guidelines. And what a difference it made. The Friends of the Coves community are quietly and considerately breathing new life into the Coves Reservoir Nature Reserve. The next addition will be the James Watt Wander. Designed by local school pupil Laura Stewart, it will be developed close to the Mallard Crescent side of the reserve. I have high hopes for what can be achieved in terms of reforestation and wilding within Inverclyde but that’s for another day. I found that just being part of a local event, listening to the plans and witnessing the enthusiasm, reminded me how much I have missed all the local community driven events that made up so much of my diary prior to the pandemic.

When things ‘return to normal’ it won’t be the grandiose corridors or leather clad benches of Westminster that I am most grateful for, it will be the opportunity to meet up with the many precious local community groups that are the heartbeat of Inverclyde. From our much-underappreciated community councils to the many musical, environmental, mental health, sport and youth groups. Not forgetting my visits to our over stretched social housing providers and it has been far too long since I raided the tuck shop at the Jobcentre and met with staff there. When all is said and done, while big decisions are made at a national level it will be the local community that pulls us through and the local networks that are there for us when this is all over. It may be December, but I feel the spirit of spring is in the air already. Thank you.