If you look through a century of statements from MPs, you would struggle to find many who haven’t mentioned the importance of representing the views of their constituents. In the modern era it would be easy to assume emails, Twitter and Facebook are the place to find out what people think, but often these channels tend to reflect the views of those already politically engaged or people asking for views or support on specific issues. These voices are important but can mean the complete range of views from across the constituency could be missed.
This year alone I have worked with my team on more than 5,000 individual cases, but I realise even that still is a small proportion of the constituency. That is why I make a daily effort to truly reach out to listen to views from across all parts of our town.
This outreach has taken many forms and I have been fortunate to take part in many visits with a wide diversity of community groups (and a large number of Zoom calls too). These have all highlighted what an amazing community we have. I have seen first-hand the generosity of spirit everyone has shown during the Covid-19 crisis. I have listened to so many wonderful stories of individuals helping vulnerable neighbours, to witnessing the tireless efforts of community groups as they cooked and delivered food on an unprecedented scale for front line workers.
I have tried my best to listen throughout the crisis, but I also realise that even with the thousands of voices I have listened to, there are still so many more unheard stories and experiences.
This is why I recently launched the first in a series of community surveys. My goal is to better understand how our town has felt during lockdown so that these can continue to help me represent Watford in the House of Commons, when speaking to ministers and in my roles on select committees.
As your MP, I can assure you that no issue is too big or too local for me. If it is important to you, it is important to me. I have already spoken in the chamber dozens of times about local issues from the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital or tackling the stigma of mental health. I have even been working on requesting an adjournment debate to discuss the Woodmere Avenue width restriction.
This survey is an opportunity to share your experiences so I can learn from them and take them into account when representing our town. So, if you have kindly taken time to read this article, I hope you would consider spending a few more minutes sharing your thoughts on our community in the survey at www.deanrussell.co.uk/Survey.