Sheffield MP opens up the Big Conversation to get constituents talking
Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield will once again begin his annual Big Conversation project next month in order to 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.
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.
He said: “I think the Big Conversation and actually having meetings and speaking to people is hugely important, even in the digital age with social media and emails.
“I probably get around 200 to 300 emails a day but if I based my priorities purely on emails that I get I wouldn’t be acting for the majority of my constituents.”
Mr Blomfield will begin this year’s Big Conversation with an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield’s breakfast show on Friday, September 6.
His first meetings will be held over the weekend of September 14 and 15.
Leaflets will also be delivered to 40,000 homes in his constituency.
FULL PROGRAMME OF EVENTS/MEETINGS
Madina Masjid Open Day
Sunday, September 15
1pm until 3pm
Madina Masjid, Wolseley Road, S8 0ZU
Sunday, September 15
5pm until 6:30pm
Crowded House, 215 Sharrow Vale Road, S11 8ZB
Open Drop InMonday, September 16
11am until12pmManor Park Community Space, Manor Park Centre, S2 1WE
Open Meeting on Housing
Monday 16 September
7:30pm until 8:30pmCentral United Reformed Church – 60 Norfolk Street, S1 2JB
Café Drop InTuesday, September 17
2pm until 3pmAmici & Bici, 220 Abbeydale Road, S7 1FL
Open Meeting on Climate ChangeTuesday, September 17
7:15pm until 8:45pm
Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James Street, Sheffield S1 2EW
Open Meeting for Women
Wednesday, September 18
7pm until 8:30pm
Harland Café, 68 John Street, S2 4QU
Open Meeting on Brexit
Thursday, September 19
7:30pm until 9pm
St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane, Sheffield S2 4QZOpen Meeting for Small BusinessFriday, September 20
8am until 9:30am
Open Meeting: Broken Politics & How To Fix ItFriday, September 27
6pm until 7:30pmSharrow Community Forum, Old Junior School, South View Road, S7 1LJ
Open Meeting in BroomhillSunday, September 29
6pm until 7:30pm
St Mark’s Church, Broomhill, Broomfield Road, S10 2SE
Open Meeting in WalkleyMonday, September 30
7:30pm until 9pmWalkley Library, South Road, S6 3TD
Open Meeting for CarersTuesday, October 1
10:30am until 11:30am
Open MeetingTuesday, October 1
6:30pm until 8pmThe Sanctuary, Chapel Walk, S1 2PD
Open Meeting on Safer NeighbourhoodsWednesday October, 2
7pm until 8:30pmBroomhall Centre, Broomspring Lane, S10 2FD
Drop In at Pop In Police StationThursday, October 3
9am until 11amLIDL, Alison Crescent, S2 1AS
Café Drop InThursday, October 3
12:30pm – 1:30pmZEST, 18 Upperthorpe, S6 3NA
Open Meeting on Mental HealthThursday, October 3
4:30pm until 6pmSheffield MIND, The Wellbeing Centre, 110 Sharrow Lane, S11 8AL
Open Meeting in Nether EdgeThursday, October 3
7:30pm until 9pmNether Edge Bowling Club, Nether Edge Road, S7 1RU
Café Drop InFriday, October 4
Noon until 1pmPark Library Café, 243 Duke Street, S2 5QP
Pub Drop InFriday, October 4
5pm – 6:30pmThe Gardener’s Rest, 105 Neepsend Lane, S3 8AT