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'We have got a lot in common'

MESSAGE OF SUPPORT: Helen Grant MP with Black Cultural Archives Heritage Director Paul Reid during a visit last week to its iconic building in Windrush Square, Brixton

THIS MONTH the UK hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), bringing together leaders from all the member countries for one week, in London and Windsor.

The theme was ‘Towards a common future’, cementing the unifi ed vision of all 53 nations. It is a moment when leaders come together to reaffi rm our common values and is a positive chance for us all to explore the shared global challenges that we face.

The future of our Commonwealth depends on one billion young people, with 60 per cent of its population being under 30. It is therefore fundamental that these meetings should have a strong youth focus and one of the key issues this time was education. In that vein, the Prime Minister Theresa May pledged £212 million to ensure that children, particularly girls who are living in developing Commonwealth countries, will receive at least 12 years of quality education.

The initiative will see nearly one million more girls go to school and we cannot underestimate the huge difference that this will make. These children are our scientists, doctors, teachers and engineers of the future. If we invest in them we are investing in our future.

FUNDING

Mrs May also saw CHOGM as a chance to readdress the widespread deadly killer of malaria.

Six out of the 10 countries most affected by malaria are members of the Commonwealth; Nigeria, India, Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania, accounting for nearly half of the total number of cases in 2016. While malaria funding has increased tenfold in as many years, one child every two minutes still dies from the disease.

Encouragingly the PM has gained pledges from the leaders of more than a dozen malaria-affected Commonwealth countries to commit to a goal of halving malaria by 2023. I am proud too that the UK is leading the battle with a commitment to invest £500 million each year, over the next three years, in the fight against malaria.

We have also promised funding for a new malaria programme in Nigeria which, with 57 million cases in 2016, suffers the highest number in the world.

Unjust deportation scares affecting members of the Windrush generation of the 1960s also came to the fore during CHOGM and Mrs May rightly took the opportunity to address the issue with the leaders of those Caribbean countries affected.

She gave a heartfelt apology for the anxiety caused and she has affirmed that no one who has the right to be here will be asked to leave. She also made it clear that the Windrush generation and their children are British and their contribution to this country is both recognised and appreciated. I reinforced that message when I visited Black Cultural Archives Heritage Director Paul Reid at the iconic BCA Heritage building in Windrush Square, Brixton, during CHOGM week.

The Commonwealth is a huge and diverse group of countries, including many of the world’s largest and smallest economies. It is home to half of the globe’s top emerging cities and, with a combined population of 2.4 billion people, is nearly a third of the global population. CHOGM is a unique chance for us to gather together with one aim.

By working together, we can promote trade and investment, educate our children, create jobs and ensure the health and prosperity of all our people.

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