There’s a sporty feeling in the air as the World Cup looms and although it has been years since I waved a football scarf (I am a proud Leicester City supporter) I was sporting a woolly one around the House of Commons yesterday, to surprised looks, given it was a warm, sunny day.
My wearing of this unseasonable accessory was to show my support for the Football United campaign, a new initiative to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, which shockingly rose by 30 per cent in Britain during the last World Cup.
Clubs across the UK have signed the ‘Football United Club Pledge’ to send a message that domestic violence is unacceptable and I was happy to discuss the work with other MPs and representatives from Wiltshire Police at the launch event. Wiltshire has led the UK in developing new approaches to preventing and prosecuting this cowardly crime and our local work has now been rolled out nationally.
Unlike me, Angelina Jolie was dressed in a very summery fashion when she came to Westminster this week for an international summit with William Hague to end sexual violence in war. Whether it is the sexual violence that haunted the Bosnian wars or the ongoing abduction and abuse of women and men in current conflicts in Africa, the summit is aiming to send a message that this crime will no longer be tolerated, and prosecutions will increase – with Britain leading the way through its diplomatic and international development efforts. This is one of those cross-party, apolitical efforts that makes me proud of our country and our ability to punch above our weight on the global stage.
Politics were also on the back-burner when, along with MPs from all parties, I headed to 10 Downing Street yesterday where Samantha Cameron was holding a reception for the charity SUDEP, which campaigns for better awareness and prevention of deaths from epilepsy.
I have been involved with the charity for several years after meeting constituents Jan and Barrie Burns from Larkhill, who lost their son two years ago and it was wonderful to see their campaigning work recognised.
Finally, along with Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury, I met the Secretary of State for Transport to keep up our campaigning for improvements to our local train services. We were encouraged that the importance of high speed links from Pewsey and Bedwyn are fully recognised by the department.