I’m a well organised woman. You can’t do my job otherwise. But Christmas is here and time’s running short for all my Christmas cards and late-ordered online presents. It’s been a bleak year for national and international politics. Our TV screens depict the devastation in Aleppo, all of Syria, and Yemen.
There is pain here at home, too. Cuts to vital public services hurt us all, especially people on low and medium incomes. Standards of living are being squeezed ever further. More of our children arrive at school hungry.
But, let’s focus upon some good things locally that warm my heart and tell me our community spirit is strong and irrepressible.
Newham rejoices in many good people, who work to make other’s lives more bearable. Remember when Stratford food bank was robbed? So much food and other essentials were lost. We needed to raise £1,000 to restock it, a target some thought unachievable. In less than a week, we’d raised double that.
Visiting Green Street traders a fortnight ago, I mentioned I’d just handed in my contribution to Community Links’ Christmas Toy Appeal.
They responded immediately, giving money to buy toys for the thousands of Newham children, who would otherwise go without. Their very generous contribution made a real difference to the lives of Newham’s poorest children. They have my heartfelt gratitude.
As I began writing, St Bonaventure’s school messaged me about this year’s fundraising drive for Shelter. Theirs is only one of many Newham schools working selflessly to make this world a little better.
This end-of-year column is my opportunity to thank our local heroes for their unsung efforts: Kevin Jenkins, Colin Grainger, the Green Street traders and many, many others for another successful Christmas Toy Appeal: likewise, our socially-aware children, schools and community volunteers, whose energetic creativity raises money to improve other people’s lives so much.
Thank you, everyone, who dropped coins into collection boxes, or donated to food banks. The little we each do snowballs when it’s all added together.
My very best wishes to you and yours for a merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New Year.