As the year draws to a close, I hope all readers have had a restful Christmas, and are able to spend plenty of time with your loved ones.
Thank you to all of the people who are working over Christmas and New Year, from pubs and restaurants, to care homes, hospitals and our emergency services.
And to all of the volunteers who are providing food, company and cheer for people who would like somewhere to meet others as Christmas can be very difficult for people who are on their own or missing loved ones.
Our voluntary services do a great job all year round, helping people to get together, offering a befriending service, to help to build lasting friendships and a sense of community it is all too easy to lose as local shops, pubs and community facilities are closed.
It’s why I’ve been supporting their campaign to keep their funding, and will continue to assist them to keep going, because they are so needed.
It can also be a difficult time for people who feel they cannot afford the expense of Christmas.
I’ve been helping residents who have been transferred onto Universal Credit and left with just enough for their rent and household bills, but barely enough for food, let alone anything for Christmas. That’s especially hard for families with children.
When it’s fully rolled out, over 6,000 households in High Peak will be on Universal Credit, and a third of our children will be affected. So I’m working to try and make as many improvements as possible before more people suffer.
The government have even abolished the £10 Christmas payment for people on benefits. Small as it was by today’s standards, the payment showed that government recognised Christmas and wanted people to have a little extra to enjoy it.
Even at Christmas, I see many people coming to me for support and help, so it’s easy to concentrate on what isn’t going well, and there’s a lot that needs government to put right.
But a new year represents a fresh start for all of us, a chance to look at even the most intractable problems with fresh eyes, and to seek a new way forward.
I will be taking a break over the holiday, a chance to spend time with my children and wider family and friends, and to enjoy our beautiful area.
Even if you are working, I hope that you get the chance to enjoy a balance of peace and fellowship, rest and activity, to feel refreshed and ready for the new year and all that it brings.