The parishioners of St Edward the Confessor (Milton Keynes) invited their local MP, Iain Stewart (MP – Milton Keynes South), to join them for an Informal “meet the parishioners” over a bacon butty and cuppa after mass on 2 July. This was part of the Speak up week of action supported by the Climate Coalition of which CAFOD is a member. A wonderful opportunity to make sure that the concerns of the world’s poorest people are one of the first things on their MP’s agenda, just a few weeks after he was re-elected.
The culmination of which was the involvement in CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign which seeks to help families around the world to lift themselves out of poverty through safe, renewable energy. Parish Volunteer Marc Auckland writes :
Parishioners were keen to ask for progress on tackling climate change and thus poverty, both locally nationally and internationally.
Iain Stewart met many parishioners to discuss this crucial global issue, as well as discussions ranging from NHS funding, local transport links, diesel emissions and hybrid cars through to third world poverty.
Iain specifically praised CAFOD saying, “a global charity that is light on overhead costs, focuses funding on impacting practical projects that have a lasting benefit to the communities they seek to help”. He spoke about critical issues such as clean energy and water, health issues such as immunisation and helping the communities help themselves thus becoming self-sustaining. He supported this country’s commitment to the 0.7% GDP for overseas development. The UK is one of the few countries signed up to the UN pledge that is hitting the target. Iain agreed to table a parliamentary question to Priti Patel, the Overseas Development Minister, to ensure continued funding and support of practical focused charities such as CAFOD.
Young Parishioner Jared asked Iain why the Conservatives were not canvassing and speaking to the youth of the country more. Iain assured Jared that they were. He explained that there was a Youth cabinet to represent and promote Youth points of view and issues. Iain said he had visited many primary and secondary schools in the area to ensure he understood the younger peoples’ points of view. He offered to host Jared and up to 6 young parishioners to a visit to the Houses of parliament as his guest and an opportunity to discuss further the needs of the youth of the country.
Other parishioner raised concerns over the sustainable, energy efficient new housing building programmes for over 1000 new builds in Milton Keynes. Iain shared these concerns and reassured parishioners that was personally involved in it and was keen to ensure the proper building standards were enforced.
Ian stayed for an hour and was delighted with the informal approach which allowed him to get to know many of his constituents personally and understand the strength of concerns they had around climate change. Iain has offered to come to future coffee mornings to keep abreast of local concerns and needs. A relaxed sharing of information was enjoyed by all. “