Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 9 June 2016


There is much that is good about modern society: technology, opportunity, mobility, prosperity, entertainment, access to information and so on. Some people do not like this much, and as my dad admitted to me on Sunday, they want to go back to the 1950's. Then there was less family breakdown, greater social certainty (everyone knew his or her place) more deference, and virtually no immigration.

But a lot of people lived narrow lives in which they were trapped. I would not want to swap then for now.

But there remain many stubborn problems and some new ones. Drug dependency was not widespread when Dixon of Dock-Green greeted us with his "Evening All" each week, and of course internet fraud and scams were thirty years in the future.

Significantly, levels of personal loneliness, anxiety and depression were less.

I have noticed a substantial increase in these challenges since my first election in 1992: more people unable to cope with modern life, stressed and depressed. There are doubtless many reasons for this. Fewer people live near supportive families. The pace of life. We have created new labels for some of these conditions and that might partly explains the prevalence. A senior mental health nurse explained to me the other day that years ago some people used to have "low days" and feel fed up. It would pass. Now, they go to the doctor and get a label and a prescription. I saw her point, but we know that mental health challenges are real and that we are not very good at supporting people who experience these conditions.

Which is why I am introducing a listening service. This is an experiment. I want to provide a place where constituents who are feeling anxious and/or depressed or lonely can get things off their chest. I am not talking about people with serious mental health challenges, but those who just want someone to listen to them. Where else can they go? Doctors are understandably too busy and few people are members of churches and support groups.

I have engaged the services of an impartial, non-judgemental, non-political, skilled person, Louise, who has relevant experience. If you or anyone you know living in South West Devon would benefit from a 45-minute chat with her, please ring us on 01752 335666 and give it a go. She will probably be able to help people find the right way forward or signpost to a professional if necessary.

posted by Gary @ 10:40