My Week: Lisa Nandy MP gets down and dirty with charities

The shadow minister for civil society recounts her week

Lisa Nandy resisted the temptation to jet off to the Caribbean and spent her week working with charities
Lisa Nandy resisted the temptation to jet off to the Caribbean and spent her week working with charities

Monday: Parliament isn't sitting this week and, tempting as it may be to jet off to a Caribbean island, I've decided to spend some time shadowing charity workers in my constituency of Wigan. But first it's my weekly surgery. It's hard to overstate the level of despair; I'm just glad that people are asking for help. It's the thought of the ones who aren't doing so that keeps me awake at night.

Tuesday: First, I have a quick stop at the office to do a radio interview about fracking and check in on a distressing case involving children in care. Then I'm out with my local Age UK. I am promised a hands-on experience, but it is still a bit of a shock to be handed some tools and told to put up a grab rail. Thanks to the handyman, who isn't about to let an unsupervised MP loose on someone's wall, the rail (and house) are still standing - but I'm not sure I'll be counting on that family's vote come the next election.

Wednesday: Hot on the heels of yesterday's DIY success, I'm with the charity Whizz-Kidz, helping out at a wheelchair skills workshop. It's an opportunity to talk to children and parents and see the energy and compassion of the staff and volunteers. I leave feeling really fired up - which, as it happens, is a good thing, because I'm heading to my local wrestling club to help publicise its forthcoming trip to the US. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the children but, as I find myself exchanging blows with a professional wrestler, I do wonder why on earth I'd agreed to do it.

Thursday: I try to catch up with some case work. Since the bedroom tax kicked in last April, there's been chaos in Wigan. My case worker, who has done the job for 20 years, says she can't remember being this busy.

Friday: I'm off to Manchester to meet charities from across the north west, then it's back to Wigan to discuss new housing and the plight of Palestinian children, and to cut the ribbon of our new art gallery. There is rivalry in the art class over who can draw a better version of Stephen Fry. Let's just say I won't be giving up the day job.

Lisa Nandy MP is the shadow minister for civil society

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