ONE of the more pleasant duties of being a Member of Parliament is to get away from Parliament into the real world and meet dedicated people tirelessly working to improve our local community.

I met one such group of people when I recently visited the Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (EHWLC) for the launch of the West London Student Trust.

The college is a great local success story. It is one of the largest further education colleges in the UK, with more than 22,000 students and nearly 1,000 staff across four sites in West London (Acton, Ealing, Hammersmith and Southall) and in the community.

An Ofsted/ALI inspection in November 2006 resulted in 94 out of 100 college areas judged as good or outstanding and positioned EHWLC as the "best FE college in west London". The college provides high-quality education and training to promote participation in lifelong learning and was awarded Beacon College Status in May 2007, thanks to its "innovation and excellence".

I am very proud of the work that EHWLC is doing and congratulate all of the staff and students on their excellent efforts. In the competitive global economy that we now live in it is vital that local people are given opportunities to develop the skills that they need to gain employment and that local businesses have a ready supply of trained workers to enable them to develop their companies. The recent Leitch Report to Government placed renewed emphasis on the importance to the economy of investing in skills.

I am personally committed to ensuring that the government provides the right quantity and mix of financial support for all our FE colleges including continued ESOL funding for the large numbers of local students who need help to improve their English and also entry level 1 and 2 support for those students with a low skills base.

I am also committed to the new West London Student Trust that will provide financial support for those students who for one reason or another risk falling through the cracks and missing out on life changing opportunities, and have agreed to be the trust's patron. Anyone interested in donating to the fund should contact EHWLC on 0800 034 0383.