MP's PA commended for work with constituents

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has expressed delight that his PA has been formally recognised for her work with local residents.

Gloria Nicholl, who is based at Mr Herbert's office in Westminster, has been awarded runner-up in the MP's Caseworker of the Year Awards 2009.

Gloria, who has worked for Mr Herbert since 2007, manages cases where constituents come to the MP for help.  Frequently they have exhausted other avenues and do not know where else to turn.

Gloria assists with a variety of cases relating to hospital treatment, tax credits, child support and residential care for the elderly but she has received special recognition for her work on housing, autism and education issues.

Before joining Mr Herbert's office, Gloria's career has included spells with Conservative MPs David Davis, Ann Widdecombe and the new Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Gloria was born and brought up in New York City in the US and her friendly American accent is well known to constituents who call Mr Herbert's office.

Angmering resident Judi Hutchings commented: "Gloria has supported me and my family through the last year with the problems I have encountered with the NHS.  My husband has had a horrendous time whilst in hospital, and is now in a nursing home, which none of us expected.  I am not sure how I would have coped without her support and wholehearted kindness.  The problem is on-going but she always has time for me even though her life is so busy."

Gloria said: "I'm incredibly proud to have been commended for my work with Nick and his constituents in Arundel and South Downs.  These awards were only set up last year but I think it's great that caseworkers are recognised for the role they play in supporting Members of Parliament.

"The interesting thing about casework is that it crosses all barriers - people from all walks of life have difficulties - nobody is immune, and we are a voice for people who feel they have no other recourse.  In the past year, we have managed to forestall bailiffs, advise people who have NHS treatment or drugs refused, advise parents on the ‘statementing' of their special needs children and just give a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.  It's hard work but very rewarding and worthwhile."

Nick Herbert said: "I'm really delighted that Gloria has been recognised for her wonderful work on behalf of my constituents.  She combines compassion with formidable tenacity and just won't give up on any case.  We have achieved some great results for people in difficulty and more often than not it's been thanks to Gloria's determination and skill.

"This award also draws attention to an important aspect of the work which Parliamentary staff do.  At a time when MPs' allowances have understandably been in the public eye, I hope this will help to show people that the staff who we employ with taxpayers' funds work hard behind the scenes for our constituents."

The Caseworker of the Year Awards were established last year by the trade union Unite and staff are nominated by MPs, colleagues or organisations outside Parliament.

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Ed Barker