What did former Conservative leadership contender Rory Stewart find during visit to Hartlepool
Former Conservative leadership contender Rory Stewart chewed the political fat with Hartlepool people when he paid a visit to the town.
Mr Stewart, who is MP for Penrith and the Border, spent time chatting to members of the public in Hartlepool town centre on his fact-finding tour of Britain.
He said he was troubled by cases he saw at St Aidan’s community food kitchen, which provides hot meals and groceries to anyone who is hungry, homeless, or in need.
But he also heard about more positive sides of the town including its great heritage from the town’s Labour MP Mike Hill.
Mr Stewart unsuccessfully stood in the race to become Prime Minister when Theresa May stood down.
He is visiting around 25 different towns this week. On Wednesday, he visited Sunderland and Easington.
Mr Stewart said: “I’m very interested in learning about different parts of Britain.
“In Hartlepool I was looking at a food bank where there were very troubling people with serious needs.
“But as the MP reminded me there’s also some great parts of Hartlepool.”
He said the food bank’s clients were dealing with issues related to Universal Credit, homelessness, substance addiction and mental health issues.
He added: “Incredible thanks to the church and those volunteering.
“I think we need to find a way of working more closely with the church because they are providing a vital service there.”
Mr Stewart posed for selfies with people he spoke to including Lauren Howells, 20, who is from Hartlepool and is currently studying politics at Cambridge University.
She said: “I’m a member of the Labour party but think Rory is a fantastic talent in the Conservative party. We talked about the area and my experiences of the town.
“I think it’s important that politicians come here and speak to the people directly.”
Despite being from different parties, Mike Hill praised him for visiting the town to improve his understanding of Hartlepool.
Mr Hill said: “I’ve known Rory for some time having been in Parliament. He’s a politician known to want to understand the impact of government policy on society.
“I told him it’s good to see someone from the government benches come to Hartlepool not only to look around and meet people but get a better understanding of what ten years of government austerity has had on the town.”
Mr Stewart also spoke to young people including Michael Collins, 16, who is due to start at Hartlepool College of Further Education next month.
Michael said: “I just wanted to speak to him. He seems like one of the few MPs who tells the truth.”