IT has been another very busy week, both locally in Central Devon and up in Westminster.

 Locally I visited the Bungalow Youth Project in Buckfastleigh and the Turning Tides Project in Crediton – two fantastic local charities that do important work in our constituency. 

My visit to the BYP was my first since the pandemic started and I met with its director Fanny Jackson, as well as some of the trustees and youth workers. 

I was delighted to hear that a recent funding bid it submitted to the National Lottery had been successful and that the money will make a big difference to the charity over the next few years. 

The BYP goes further than simply providing a safe and enjoyable environment for young people to socialise – it also gets them involved with budgeting and cooking meals for example. 

Such simple life lessons are often overlooked but are incredibly valuable. 

The BYP encourages young people to take on leadership roles within the organisation and I was pleased to hear they are involved with the Government Apprenticeship Scheme and have someone training to be a Level 3 Youth Support Worker.

From Buckfastleigh it was up the A38 for a meeting in Chudleigh before heading to Crediton to meet Jane Williams, Director of Turning Tides. 

The non-profit organisation champions equal access to music and the arts for people with a learning disability or autism but also goes beyond that and looks at the barriers, discrimination and exclusion that those with a disability or autism can face. 

One of my roles as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is to look at how the government can make the workplace more accessible to everyone and the feedback I had from Turning Tides was very helpful.

At Westminster, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was once again at the fore, with President Zelensky visiting Number 10 to meet with the Prime Minister ahead of a speech to Parliament. 

Almost a year on from Putin’s brutal and unjustifiable invasion, I am proud that the UK continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine. First and foremost this is to protect another country without sufficient means to defend itself, but it is also to protect ourselves. 

Unchallenged Russian aggression in Europe will only encourage more aggression in years to come.

The Prime Minister has announced a fresh round of sanctions targeting Russia, which includes manufacturers of military equipment and IT companies. 

We will also be supplying Challenger 2 tanks, training a further 20,000 Ukrainian troops, and training Ukrainian pilots to fly NATO fighter jets.

Locally, I will continue to support Ukrainian refugees making their way to Central Devon. 

I have assisted more than two-thirds of those who have made it to our constituency with visa applications and passport problems, and have enjoyed spending time with some of the refugees who have settled here and made Central Devon their home.

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