AFTER his election win in December 2019, Matt Vickers MP for Stockton South, has spoken about his first year in office.

From dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, to responding to thousands of constituent emails regarding anything from dog fouling to incidents of domestic violence. It has been quite a first year for the MP.

He said: “It has been a year like no other.

“I don’t think any of us in our wildest imaginations could have seen a year like this coming. That being said, I have been so immensely proud of us Teessiders and how we have responded to the pandemic, it has been remarkable really and time and time again I have been fortunate enough to see the good it has brought out in people. Whether that be businesses stepping up to provide PPE or young people dropping off essentials to those shielding.

“Times have been very tough, but with the community testing and vaccine in play, we will come through this. The fact we have already vaccinated 500,000 people in the UK is an incredible achievement. With each person that is vaccinated, we get a step closer to defeating this virus once and for all.”

Speaking of the election a year ago, Mr Vickers, 37, said: "It was insanely exciting. I think during the campaign, I never really anticipated what it would be like if I'd become the MP. I'm a bit of a pessimist by nature. I just wanted to get out, knock on those doors, and you know what, hopefully do alright in the process.

"There's something about going out, meeting people, you knock on doors and you have this assumption of everyone behind each door being a 'normal person’ actually there are so many characters all with different priorities.

"Doing this on home turf, where I grew up is amazing.

"Behind every door, every now and again there was someone who taught me at school, who I might have worked with or met down the pub. It's a pretty cool experience.

“Meeting people is probably my favourite part of the job and I can’t wait to do more and more of it when the pandemic is over.”

Speaking of Covid, he said: "When you put it in perspective, a year ago people had never heard of coronavirus. The tests didn't exist. None of this was foreseen. It was a huge challenge and decisions are never simple.

"In my inbox every day I have people saying we've not locked down tight enough, the schools should be shut down. On the other end of the spectrum I have people telling me it's a myth.

"I've had people who've lost a relative, someone whose business is going to the wall, or a person living alone for months.

"We have to find a decision among all that. Every decision has its questions and its doubters."

Asked if he thought the Government could have handled things differently, he said: "You make decisions on the information you have available at that point, and then at some point more information becomes available and you see the impact and then you change your decision.

"People talk about U-turns - actually, we've got a Government that is looking at what happens, listening to people and responding to them. I think that's a good thing."

Throughout the year Mr Vickers has been involved in helping local nurseries and schools and spending days working on the beat with local police officers.

He said: "The best achievements can be the smaller things.

“Helping to sort out a new nursery for Rosehill Primary in Hartburn was wonderful. Getting to visit the other week and see the amazing staff and pupils in the new improved nursery. You really can’t beat that.

"I always say, if I can do a couple of things like this while I'm down here, make that sort of a difference, that would be good!"

Mr Vickers also spent his time focusing on crime, praising the Government for putting 146 new officers on the streets in Cleveland.

He said: "I've been out with officers, and you don't just see the crime and anti-social behaviour but some of the social problems as well - you see the mental health issues, domestic violence, and you can learn a lot more."

He also said he was pleased to see officers now taking delivery of new body-worn cameras something he has been campaigning on in Westminster - and now wants to see Taser training rolled out to every officer who requests it.

He said: "You know what, if a Cleveland Police officer wants it - and regardless of what political baggage a force might have - they deserve to get it."

He also spoke about about the progress at Eaglescliffe Station and his campaign to upgrade car parking and facilities, improving disabled access, and opening a new entrance from Durham Lane to cut congestion.

Having ‘dragged the Health Secretary up to visit North Tees Hospital' and push for improvement he also welcomed around £3m funding to upgrade the A&E department and more recently a further £3.5m of improvements to the ageing hospital.

Mr Vickers has also been working on the Government's 'town deal', which could see Thornaby get up to £25m with a successful bid.

He said: "Whenever we get cash in our part of the world, I want to ensure that we don't just get the cash but we make it go as far as possible."

Mr Vickers said he wants to sort out the "minging" Eagle Hotel and encourage Stockton Council, the town centre owners, and other stakeholders to invest as well.

He said: "It's also about leisure, it's about improved cycle routes, training and skills.

"If you want to improve people's lives you give them the chance to get good jobs."

Another 'levelling up' hope is the possibility of civil service jobs in the Treasury heading north, with a site at Teesside Airport a front-runner as the location for a new base.

He said: "It's about creating great jobs for Teessiders so that they don't have to move to London, for a start. But it's also about moving decision making up here too."

Speaking of 2020 as a whole, he said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges I do believe this Government has put their money where their mouth is. The millions upon millions of Furlough Payments. The 14,000 new nurses, 9,000 more doctors and an extra £5,000 funding for each and every secondary school pupil. Is there more work to do ? Of course, there is!

“I am going to continue to work day in and day out to be the best local MP I can.

"I just want to improve the lives of local people and there really is no problem too big or small. I probably sound like a broken record, but please, email me or stop me if you see me around, and I will do all I can to help.

“It has been probably the most challenging year we have faced since World War Two, however I am hugely confident that come this time next year, things will look very different. Hope, opportunity and success is right around the corner for Teesside."