It has been a very busy few weeks beginning life as one of your Scottish Labour representatives in the Scottish Parliament.

Coming from my own small village as a councillor to representing the whole of the West Scotland region is a big task but also a huge privilege.

I am proud of how diverse this Parliament is including more women and BAME members, our first MSP who is a permanent wheelchair user – my Labour colleague for Glasgow region, Pam Duncan Glancy – and of course my own position as the first openly gay man to represent Scottish Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

Our Parliament is starting to look more like Scotland, and that is a great thing.

I was somewhat surprised on my first day to be met with a bank of cameras and journalists shouting as I entered the Parliament building – the first question asked was “what are your priorities?”.

Of course at the start of a five year term there are many things I could have answered with and that we want to achieve, but it was clear to me in this moment that the obvious answer was recovery.

The scale of the year we have lived through is like nothing we have experienced before and we need a response to match. People have lost so much and my thoughts are with anyone who has lost someone at this time.

Our communities have been at the frontline of responding to the pandemic and going forward we need to harness the energy of our communities who came together like never before during lockdown – setting up everything from food and prescription delivery services to befriending and community resilience groups.

The next five years must be focussed on recovery, not more division, and I look forward to working with members across our Parliament to build a more equal society.

As Parliament has just entered recess for the summer I won’t be taking the time off to relax. Instead, I will be going out on a “summer tour” where I will be going around and visiting communities in West Scotland, including spending time in Clydebank, so I can better help represent you in the Scottish Parliament.

I’m no stranger to Clydebank either, having worked in Whitecrook and Dalmuir over the years and I’m looking forward getting back as restrictions ease over the next couple of months.

If you ever feel like I can be of some assistance to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch and I will always be more than happy to help.