With some of the weather we have been having lately you could be forgiven at times for forgetting it is August, but with the lively Worcester Festival under way, and the visit of the Australians to New Road last week we’ve had some of the summer fixtures that make the city an even more special place to be.

The summer recess is always a good chance to catch up with local charities and businesses and this one has been no exception.

Affordable housing has long been a key interest of mine, and I have regularly pressed the city council, and social landlords to keep up the delivery locally.

It was good this week to visit a site in Cranham Drive where Sanctuary Housing, a national housing association who are headquartered in Worcester are developing 34 new affordable homes for rent.

Alongside developments in the city centre and plans to refurbish some of their properties by the riverside, these developments are not just providing homes but also vital jobs and opportunities for apprentices. Delivering more homes is a key challenge for the new Prime Minister and I want to see Worcester continuing to lead the way.

I enjoyed another inspiring visit this week to the brilliant local charity Aspie who help provide social and employment activities for people with Asperger’s and recently I’ve had several meetings with some of the amazing charities helping people with autism, Asperger’s and learning difficulties in Worcester. We are fortunate in Worcester not only to have a brilliant collection of third sector organisations in this space, but also a university which is leading the way on inclusion and creating opportunities for people with learning difficulties.

In the recent reshuffle I was honoured to be asked to take up a new role in Government. As part of my new role as Minister for the Union in Scotland and Northern Ireland, I’ve also been doing some visits in both of those locations.

The first was to see ground-breaking work on robotics at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, using robots help interact with and teach people with learning difficulties as well as to make construction sites safer and more efficient. It was a reminder of how investment and technology developed in one part of our country can help to address challenges in every part.

I am passionate about our United Kingdom and determined that it should continue to be a global success story.

UK universities and businesses are at the forefront of developments that can make our country an even better place to be in the future and I am excited by the potential to use my role to ensure every part of the UK benefits from this.

One of my predecessors as MP for Worcester, John Somers, was the author of the 1707 act of the Union which brought England and Scotland together. I think he would be proud to see, more than three hundred years on, that the Union remains a key priority for his successors.