This year has flown by, yet sadly, much uncertainty remains about the future of our country. This is the third year in a row that I have said this – we must redouble our efforts to heal the divisions of recent years, and come together so that areas like ours can thrive again.

I am sure that many of us will be concerned about some of the changes we are seeing across our country. The rise in rough sleeping is particularly troubling, as is the growth in the number of families, many of whom are in work, depending on foodbanks.

It is no accident that this is happening, but no-one in our society should be in such hardship, and I would ask that you spare a thought for those who find themselves in this position over the festive period. If you can, perhaps you would consider buying a small gift for a child or older person who otherwise may not receive one, or an extra tin of something that can be donated to a foodbank? There are many local charities and organisations that run appeals at this time of year, and would benefit greatly from your support. You can find out how to donate to a local foodbank here, and some examples of gift appeals here and here.

In my work as your Member of Parliament, I am fortunate to witness first-hand the work of those work to deliver services that we rely on and, if we are honest, may sometimes take for granted. Firefighters,  NHS workers, our armed forces, carers, the police and those involved in delivering local council services – they do a pretty good job in increasingly difficult circumstances. It is tough to do more with less but that is what is happening. Many of these services are delivered 365 days a year, including over Christmas and the New Year. We should remember and thank all of those who will be working hard over the holidays to keep us safe and well.

For those lucky enough to be spending the Christmas holiday with family and friends, from my family to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.

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