Sheffield MP to launch Big Conversation to get constituents talking
Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield will begin his annual Big Conversation project next month in order to help shape his work and priorities in parliament.
Mr Blomfield, the MP for Sheffield Central, will 40 events over a three-week period to allow his constituents to air their thoughts about issues which matter to them.
He said the aim was to compile constituents’ concerns in order to take them to parliament and shape his future work both in the city and in Westminster.
The politician also added he wanted to see more people get involved in politics.
It will begin with street surgeries in Crookesmoor and West Bar on Saturday before he visits the open day at the Madina Masjid mosque on Sunday and holds an open meeting at Crowded House, Sharrow Vale Road, from 5pm.
Mr Blomfield said: “When Richard [Caborn] stood down in 2008 for the 2010 election, one of the things was how poor people’s view of politics was.
“It was in the middle of the expenses scandal and I just though there was a great issue so I wanted to build an interest in democratic politics.
“I was trying to reach out and find other ways of doing it and the Big Conversation was one them and it’s probably been the best one.”
As part of the project, the Labour MP will hold meetings and events across his constituency, with some based on specific themes such as housing, climate change, small businesses and Brexit.
He will also speak to students at Park Academy, UTC Sheffield City Centre, King Edwards’s School and Sheffield College.
Mr Blomfield said: “I don’t know of any other MP that does it but that’s not why I do it.
“It’s trying to reach out to constituents to understand how politics can work for them. It’s about getting them to come along and telling me what’s on their agenda and what they think my priorities should be.”
The Big Conversation was launched in 2012, which Mr Blomfield said was to ‘connect politics with the people’ and to get them involved in the work he is doing in parliament.
He said that some concerns are often quite niche, and sometimes only effect a certain individual so without the Big Conversation he would have otherwise been unaware of the issues.
The MP added: “Politics is so depressing in many ways at the minute but it’s one of the things that’s most rewarding.
“For example, I represent 130,000 people that includes school students and three events will be held at secondary schools in my constituency and they probably wouldn’t normally come along to a meeting but it’s a chance to speak to them.”
Constituents will also receive the Big Conversation survey through their door, and can also take part online.
Once the survey is complete, Mr Blomfield will then produce a report of the findings, before later updating constituents results and action taken to address their concerns.