Our rural communities comprise some of the most resilient people you are likely to meet. However, one constant subject in my regular discussions with our health authorities has been the difficulty of providing and obtaining mental health services in our market towns and villages.

That is why I helped to set up a mental health charity in Tavistock some 15 years ago, and why I have taken a great interest in the recent inquiry by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee into this important issue.

The report highlights a very consistent set of themes about mental health in rural England, including the inherent isolation that can often come with living in a rural area.

In June, I visited the Link Centre in Bideford to listen to those who make use of the services they provide and to hear how vital these services are to local people.

I have also recently convened a meeting of community mental health providers in Bideford. Having seen first-hand the importance of these services, I wanted to see how I can help ensure they continue.

To that end, I shall be continuing the dialogue with Devon County Council, the Devon Partnership NHS (mental health) Trust and others about ensuring adequate provision.

Transport in more difficult to reach places is one of the biggest problems in obtaining services people need . With 47 per cent of rural households being more than half an hour away from a town centre, it is crucial we improve access as soon as possible.

The Government recognises this and, as part of its “Unleashing Rural Potential” policy, it has announced it will publish a Future of Transport Rural Strategy to support improved access to services, tackle isolation and enhance access to employment in rural and remote areas.

Of course, I will be keeping a close eye on the details of this, but I am pressing the Government to recognise that one means by which the Government could help achieve those goals is by increasing support to our local Community Transport Associations to do more.

These important voluntary groups, which I have strongly supported over the years, are a lifeline to many in our rural area and I am very glad we have obtained a reprieve this year for Holsworthy CTA after the hard work of its trustees and supporters.

I am meeting the trustees again shortly to discuss how we can continue the CTA’s work well into the future.

These community hubs and initiatives, often run by volunteers or local charities, do vital but often unsung work, bringing people together and promoting well-being. I hope this summer to celebrate some of them by visiting and showcasing the valuable role they play in our rural communities and market towns.