For me, what makes Staffordshire Moorlands so special is the sense of community and belonging throughout our towns and villages. In a digital age, where everyone is always plugged in and connected, it seems strange that loneliness, especially amongst the young and the old, is more common than ever. Sometimes, what we need isn’t the digital approval of hundreds of strangers, but the support of our neighbours and friends
Last week I met representatives from one Moorlands organisation, Sporting Communities, who have chosen to dedicate their careers to making sure that everyone in our community has that sort of real-life support. Sporting Communities is a fantastic initiative which operates children's play services and sporting activities across the Moorlands, particularly targeting disaffected young people.
Sporting Communities has been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to help the most vulnerable in our community, so it was wonderful to hear from them that they are finally getting the recognition they deserve, winning two awards at the National Children and Young People Now Awards last month.
Organisations like Sporting Communities are exactly what make communities thrive. And this is why I am so proud to support the National Citizen Service Bill, which is making its way through parliament at the moment. NCS is a brilliant scheme which has already benefited more than 300,000 young people since it began in 2009. The bill, which had its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, would make NCS more official and permanent by giving it a Royal Charter. Operating in a very similar way to Sporting Communities, but on a larger scale, NCS builds skills for work and life - and brings people together to support community engagement and social action. It brings together schools, community organisations, businesses, and individuals to build a stronger and more cohesive society.
To combat loneliness and division in 2017, I believe it is crucial that we build upon the excellent work of organisations such as Sporting Communities and NCS. We need to ensure there are more opportunities for people in communities across Britain to come together and meaningfully engage with those from different walks of life. So congratulations to NCS, Sporting Communities and the charities like them around the Moorlands – keep up the fantastic work!