As a daughter, wife, mother, family lawyer and now an MP: my outlook has always been influenced by my family.
As a lawyer, looking after children and families and coordinating mediation to assuage family breakdown: issues surrounding the family moulded my own professional development.
As an MP, not a surgery goes by without constituents seeking advice on family issues – divorce, adoption, childcare issues and unemployment: family has shaped my politics too.
I see family as the bedrock of our society. As the Prime Minister pointed out on Monday, it's families that bring up our children, teach them values and impart knowledge. It's families that nurture the future leaders, the unsung heroes, and the community pillars of tomorrow.
I met an inspirational couple on Monday. Jane and Shaun's adopted little girl was born with foetal alcohol syndrome which left her blind and waiting for adoptive parents for 2 years. Thanks to recent changes, Jane and Shaun got the chance to meet their child through an adoption activity day and formally adopted her soon after.
That little girl, who faced such a difficult start in life, has now been given the security of a loving home. That's what family can do. And we've got some brilliant charities across the constituency that recognise the importance of family: Barnado's, the Samaritan's and Mencap - to name just a few.
So whether it's speeding up the adoption process boosting adoptions by 25% in the last year; helping more than 500,000 families through the troubled families programme; or doubling the relationship counselling budget to support couples through tough times; we are committed to championing the family unit – whatever form they take.
And I'm proud of our new commitment that will ensure promoting family life is placed at the very heart of government decision-making. Put simply, it means every single domestic policy that government comes up with will be examined for its impact on the family. Fantastic.
This column is published in The Kent Messenger each Friday where it may be subject to editiorial change.
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