I OFTEN write about our local community groups, organisations and charities who regularly host a variety of events in and around Swindon for us all to enjoy. There are many dedicated volunteers involved in the organisation of these events and they work hard to bring our local community together.

Last weekend was an especially important one for our community and, as usual, I managed to get to quite a few of them.

When we think of disability, it is easy just to be imagine physical impairments, but they are so often accompanied by invisible disabilities too. Very often, people don’t display outward signs of impairment at all, so they are often misunderstood or judged harshly by others when their disability is in fact just as real, whether it be autism or other types of condition.

Justin Tomlinson and I were therefore very pleased to welcome the charity 'Hidden Stories on Tour' to Swindon on Saturday, at an event hosted at Central Library.

Root Experience has published a compelling novel about what life is like for those with conditions ranging from anxiety to autism and diabetes to chronic fatigue syndrome – all of which have symptoms that are not easily identifiable to others. This often leads to isolation and loneliness, which is an issue I continue to work on with other local groups.

The arts charity aims to encourage more people to speak out, whilst also encouraging others to listen compassionately, and was giving away printed copies of the book at central library on Saturday. I am encouraging wellbeing centres, GP surgeries and workplaces to request copies of the book by contacting Rachel@rootexperiences.org. A free digital version is also available at hiddenstories.co.uk. It is vital that those of us experiencing an invisible illness here in Swindon, have the confidence to speak out and feel that they are being listened to compassionately if we are to tackle the issue of loneliness in our town.

As part of National Carers Week, I was also pleased to again take part in the 'Walk a Mile in Swindon' event, with Swindon Carers Centre, other charities, organisations and commissioners and brilliant supporters to raise awareness of the vital work carers do here. There are around 21,000 unpaid carers in our town and it is important that we recognise the contribution they make to families and communities.

Carers often find it challenging to take care of their own wellbeing whilst caring. Its impact on all aspects of life from relationships and health, to finances and work should not be underestimated. We are fortunate to have Swindon Carers Centre, a charity whom I have worked closely with over the years, they do an excellent job in helping all the carers here in Swindon and I will continue to do all I can to support them.

This week, I also went to the opening of Old Town Festival, which has returned for its 28th year and runs all week. I’ve been enjoying the festival now for over 10 years and it’s just a great pleasure and a privilege to be with our community. This year there were over 50 stalls, showcasing the very best that our town has to offer.

After, I popped along to the Liddington Summer Fete, a great event for all ages. It saw music from Warneford Big Band, Pony & Trap rides, a Bouncy Castle and a slide. It also hosted a number of fantastic stalls.

All in all, a wonderful Swindon summer, despite the rain!