Sitting on the border between England and Wales in the village of Redbook near Monmouth is Jamie’s Farm. This amazing charity provides residential visits for disadvantaged students who are struggling socially or academically through a unique model of ‘Farming, Family and Therapy’. During their stay at Jamie’s Farm, young people engage in meaningful jobs on a real working farm, including caring for livestock, whilst receiving tailored therapeutic support. It has been just over a year since I first visited. Back then the farm was quiet without the usual presence of visiting children because of Covid guidance from the Department for Education which advised against residential visits and stays. Since these rules were lifted in May, demand has soared and the farm is fully booked into summer next year. It was a pleasure to visit again on Friday morning to see the programme in action and meet some of the beneficiaries. I joined a group from Co-op Academy Priesthorpe for a hearty breakfast and to hear all about their week. I am delighted Jamie’s Farm has been able to resume its important work and help young people reset their lives.
Afterwards, I was given a good grilling from well-informed Y13 students at Monmouth Comprehensive School as part of National Mentoring Week 2021. The A-level students, all of whom wish to study politics and economics at university, had signed up to The Diana Award’s ‘One Hour, One Young Person, One Parliamentarian’ campaign. It’s great to be getting back to normality and arranging meetings in person. I enjoyed answering the students’ challenging questions and I look forward to welcoming them to Parliament soon.
On a more sombre note, this weekend we remembered those who were part of a worldwide effort to defeat fascism; and we commemorated the ultimate sacrifice British service members made for our freedom in wars and other military conflicts since the onset of WWI. I was honoured to help the Royal British Legion Monmouth sell poppies on Friday afternoon alongside Laura Anne Jones MS and RBL Monmouth chair Gerry Bright. We were struck by the generosity of people and their kind donations will support the excellent work of the RBL in its centenary year. I was unable to attend a local Remembrance Sunday event as I had been asked to lay a wreath at the National Service of Remembrance for Wales with First Minister Mark Drakeford. I decided to represent Her Majesty’s Government in Cardiff as I wanted to be in no doubt of the enormous contribution Welsh armed forces make to the defence of our nation.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 17 November 2021 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 18 November 2021*