Robert’s Weekly Column – Wednesday 12th December 2018

Over the past few weeks, it feels as if Brexit is the only thing on the minds of media and politicians.  Whilst it is of undoubted importance, it must not overshadow the fact that lots of other vital developments have been taking place here in Swindon.

Last Friday, there was wonderful news for our local hospital as it was announced that the Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will receive up to £29.573 million Government funding for an Integrated Front Door and Transitional Care Facility.  Thanks are due to the team at GWH who worked so hard to help secure this investment. Both North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and I continuously lobbied Matt Hancock MP, the Health Secretary, to help make it a reality.

The investment is part of the wider plan to provide better services for patients, integrate care better and renew ageing facilitates.  I am pleased that Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will now be able to provide a reconfigured and enlarged Emergency Department and a Transitional Care Facility to help cope with the needs of a growing local population.  It has often been said to me by fellow residents that the size of GWH relative to local need has been a real issue and I am delighted that as a result of this huge investment, steps will be taken to answer this concern.

The increased funding, which comes on top of the £20.5b already announced for the NHS Long Term Plan demonstrates the Conservative Government’s continuing commitment to our NHS so that it is there for all of us, free at the point of use, long into the future.

There was also more welcome news last Friday as it was announced that we will benefit from improved facilities at two of our town’s courts following £2.6m of government funding. New facilities now available as a result of this funding include additional hearing rooms and judicial chambers, kitchen facilities and new furniture, fully refurbished office areas and a new public waiting room.

Having pressed hard for Swindon on this issue, I warmly welcome these vital improvements to our Magistrates and Combined Courts, which will be of real benefit to the public and to the hardworking court staff too. HMCTS’ ambitious £1bn reform programme is bringing new technology and modern ways of working to the justice system.

Finally, a new winter shelter and day centre will open this week in Queens Drive, following a Government grant awarded to Swindon Borough Council to tackle the issue of homelessness in the town.

The Haven will be home to twelve people who put themselves forward for the scheme and have been selected by a special board. These are people who have a chaotic lifestyle and feel ready to move on.  The Haven will be a stepping stone to escaping that lifestyle and into housing. This scheme builds on the excellent work that took place in the town last year, which worked intensively with people who had been homeless, helping them back into permanent accommodation.

The new day centre, operated by the charity Swindon Night Shelter, will be available to all homeless people and provide hot meals and drinks, shower facilities, clean clothes, help and support. Workers from Turning Point will be available to help with drug and alcohol issues and workers from Nationwide will be on hand to help people with opening a bank account. Intel will also be teaching people basic computing skills. If you would like to volunteer at the scheme or donate food, toiletries, or clothes, please visit swindonnightshelter.uk for further details.