In my New Year message 12 months ago I pondered the possibility of the first female US president, and that the referendum outcome, either way, would make our future pathway in the world 'much clearer to navigate'.

Oh dear. Nostradamus would not be impressed. This year I choose to avoid prediction and simply enjoy each moment as it unfolds.

2016 brought the loss of many icons who's perennial presence had an indelible impact on my life and my generation. Bowie, Prince and George Michael were three from the world of music who's unexpected passing reminded me of the value each day brings.

We live in a great country and we have great prospects in a world where so many are less fortunate. And so my motto for 2017 is carpe diem!

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


Mental Health - 13-01-17

The last time I talked to Theresa May as Home Secretary was in April last year when she visited Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind's wellbeing centre in College Road. She showed a keen and genuine interest in the work and challenges of the Mind team in helping those with mental health problems in the Maidstone area.

It was therefore no surprise to me that her first major policy speech of the New Year as PM announced new measures to transform the way we approach and deal with mental health in this country.

Around one in four people in Britain will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. That means almost all of us will know someone who is suffering right now; depression, anxiety, phobias and eating disorders are some of the most commonly shared. Over 6,000 people in Maidstone & the Weald are registered as having depression and last year there were over 8,500 referrals to 'talking therapies' in the West Kent clinical commissioning area.

The measures Mrs May announced this week are targeted at children, young people and sufferers in the workplace, and seek community based alternatives to hospital treatment alongside wide-scale expansion of online services.

These initiatives have been welcomed wholesale by the mental health community as vital steps for the health of our nation, although the British Psychological Society say the acid test will be on the detail of how the Government will deliver on these commitments.

If we are to see significant progress then public perceptions will also need to change. Widely held stereotypes, nourished by some in the media, link mental illness with dangerous and criminal behavior. This causes terribly unjust discrimination and social stigma which exacerbates the condition for many, prolonging or even preventing recovery.

Meanwhile help and guidance is available from some great charities locally and nationally; www.maidstonemind.org, www.mentalhealth-uk.org and www.time-to-change.org.uk to name but three – volunteers and donations welcome!

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Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.


MP's Barracks Campaign Begins

Helen Grant MP ramped up her campaign to prevent the closure of Invicta Park Barracks this week, as she chaired a meeting of MPs who share similar concerns about the proposed base closures in their respective constituencies.

A number of MPs attended the meeting in Parliament from right across the United Kingdom, from Inverness in the North East to Pembrokeshire in the South West and many places in between. They also came from a broad range of political parties to share their thoughts about the Government's Better Defence Estate Strategy.

The discussion centred on the MPs' fears about the impact that the proposed base closures will have on their communities and also on the ability of the army to recruit and retain the best service personnel. Helen raised with other members the particularly significant effect that this decision will have upon the serving Gurkhas and Maidstone's Nepalese population as a whole.

As a result of the meeting, Helen is stepping up her campaign to prevent the barracks from closing. The group of MPs are in the process of applying for a parliamentary debate on the matter to place on record their opposition to the decisions and to provide an opportunity to press the Minister further. Mrs Grant is also launching a petition to garner public support for the campaign.

Helen said: 'The meeting was a very welcome chance to compare notes with other MPs about their opposition to the proposed base closures across the United Kingdom. It is clear that I am not the only person with concerns about the Better Defence Estate Strategy and the impact that it will have on our local communities and on service personnel and their families. This decision is not fair on those who give so much to our country and deserve to be treated with a great deal more compassion and understanding. This rings particularly true for our Gurkhas to whom Maidstone has become their long term home and for whom the closure of the base would cause the greatest wrench. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with this group of MPs to convince the MoD to reverse the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks.'


Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit my website. I hope you will find it informative and helpful.

If there is anything you feel I can do for you as your MP then please send me a message.  If you would like to receive regular updates on my activities and forthcoming events please sign up for my e-communique newsletter.

With very best wishes

HELEN GRANT MP

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