I HAVE been out and about going to every town and village right across my North West Durham constituency as part of my Summer Surgery Tour. Over the course of two weeks, this involved more than 50 stops speaking to constituents, community groups, business owners and many more.

In addition to my regular constituent surgeries and agricultural and county shows, it was an action packed few weeks!

I have always said North West Durham is one of the most beautiful corners of the country. Every year, this tour proves me right.

My job gives me a unique insight into every nook and cranny of life in our towns and villages. What renews my drive is that, while I heard a range of weird and wonderful stories from people of every walk of life, everyone was so friendly, optimistic and welcoming. It is obviously a cliché that northerners are open and welcoming, but for me it has more than just a grain of truth in it. I can certainly think of some Members of Parliament who could learn a thing or two from this.

As well as being one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, doing things like this is one of the most important functions of being a Member of Parliament. The only way I am able to represent my constituents is to see what life is like right across the constituency, as well as be seen by my constituents.

Sadly, I have spoken to far too many people that have said that, before me, they’d never seen an MP hold a surgery, host a jobs fair or even just pound their pavements. I am determined to deliver for people like this and start to restore peoples’ trust in politicians and our political system.

Going to every town and village in our area, you get a sense of the subtly different character, traditions and way of life in each one. However, what they all have in common is the strong community spirit that is all-too-easily forgotten elsewhere in the country. From the community sports clubs to art fairs to village meetings, you can almost feel it in the air.

However, nowhere is this more apparent than at the smaller agricultural shows and county fairs where you can actually see the whole community pulling together.

It was particularly nice showing some of my Parliament team around our area. Whenever they come up, they are always gobsmacked by the amazing views we have right on our doorstep. North West Durham undoubtedly has some of the best and most dramatic landscapes in the UK. While I take it for granted because I live here, it is a real privilege to live surrounded by natural beauty every day. Weeks like this are a good time to take stock of how lucky we are.

Members of Parliament are elected to represent the people of their constituency. All too often MPs can get wrapped up in listening to what people who shout the loudest have got to say. Going around to every town and village, no matter how small, and understanding what people actually think, is such an important part of the job.

I will definitely take back what I’ve seen, hear and learnt to Westminster and look forward to many more visits over the months to come.