Terrorists will never win
Last Wednesday, an appalling act of terrorism was carried out in Westminster with the aim of striking a blow at the heart of our democracy.
A week on, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims who are now having to rebuild their lives after such devastating events.
The man responsible for these atrocities acted out of evil. But the incident brought out the very best of people: members of the public tried to help those injured on Westminster Bridge; the emergency services responded rapidly and professionally; and across the country flags were lowered and respects were paid.
The tragedy was that PC Keith Palmer was killed in the line of duty and other innocent people were killed and injured.
At the time it happened, I had been through the lobby in parliament to vote.
Soon after, MPs, staff and visitors to Parliament were ushered to safety as the police responded and the situation unfolded.
Every day we rely on the police to keep us safe and in Leeds and in Parliament I am incredibly grateful for what they do.
Last Thursday, I spoke in the House of Commons about how people of all faiths and none mourn those who lost their lives and how we must come together more than ever in the face of attempts to divide us.
But however hard terrorists try, they won’t win. They never do. Because the values we hold true – values of respect, democracy, freedom and tolerance are stronger than the warped ideology of those who detest those values; and because good people will resist the fear and division that the terrorists exploit.
I remembered last week the words of Jo Cox: we have far more in common than that which divides us. Poignant words at moments like this.
Reach out to end loneliness
A staggering 1.2 million older people say they feel lonely all or most of the time according to a survey by Gransnet with Age UK.
As co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, I am determined to help put a dent in this crisis of loneliness.
The Commission is about encouraging people to make time for others – looking out and supporting friends, family and neighbours.
We will also be calling on government to take action – from ensuring communities are served by reliable public transport, to protecting places like libraries and community centres.
The statistics are devastating, and so are some of the stories. The woman who told me that she is “no one’s priority”, and the man who is struggling to come to terms with life without his wife of forty years.
It is scary to think that our own parents and grandparents could feel this way – or that we could too in years to come.
We are lucky in Leeds West to have charities like Bramley Elderly Action and Armley Helping Hands, who do fantastic work, organising activities from coffee mornings to music nights and reminiscence groups, bringing older people together.
Loneliness is one of those things we all have responsibility for. So, as Easter approaches, let’s think of those who might be on their own and reach out.