Amidst all the turmoil in Westminster, and the country waiting to see if the Prime Minister can negotiate a deal with Europe that is acceptable to her party, I have been trying to focus on the issues that are important to people in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton.
With all the hustle and bustle of the festive season upon us, it has been lovely to join the Christmas celebrations around the constituency over the last couple of weeks; from Santa’s special canal trips with the Safe Anchor Trust in Mirfield, to dropping in to the Royal Mail sorting office in Dewsbury to thank staff for all their hard work throughout the year, as well as over the busy Christmas period.
Despite the season, people are still facing the same daily difficulties with Universal Credit, obviously incorrect benefits assessments, our ailing hospitals and NHS services, and the dire state of our region’s public transport network.
I spoke in parliament this week about the mess facing Yorkshire’s railways – the problems endured by passengers forced to use annual leave, and who worry that their job is at risk due to the struggles they face every day travelling to work.
I have called on ministers to get to grips with much needed rail improvements – the system is clearly broken and local rail users know that it will need more than a mediocre compensation scheme to fix it.
More widely, the rising numbers of people experiencing poverty and ‘just about managing’ are well documented and it is deeply shameful that in our rich nation, many local people, through no fault of their own, will be relying on food banks this Christmas time.
I’m very grateful to those food bank volunteers and staff across the constituency who work to make life a little less difficult for those who are most vulnerable, and people like local man David Jones who generously contributes from his business to help struggling families.
David has a butcher’s shop in Earlsheaton, and, having heard the cruel and barbaric impact of Universal Credit on his customers, has been helping them out with some extra food to see them through.
I thanked David for his kindness in Parliament last week, and the previous week I highlighted the community spirit of another local man, Derek Highe, who lights up his house in Mirfield with an extraordinary Christmas display to raise thousands of pounds for Kirkwood Hospice and other charities each year.
It really is heart-warming to hear of local people going out of their way to help others and I’m proud to be able to recognise a couple of examples in Parliament – we all know they need some goodwill in there at the moment!
For a range of reasons, Christmas can be a difficult time of year, but there will always be help there if you need it.
If you feel that you are in need of emotional support, you can contact Samaritans for free in confidence by phone on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, including over the Christmas break.
Over the Christmas period it is so important that we look out for each other and enjoy those things that are truly important in life; our families, friends, neighbours and communities.
I know this will be a special time for many, both Christians and non-Christians alike. So, I’d like to thank you, for everything that you do to make our area such a special place to live.
I look forward to continuing working for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton as we head into 2019 and I wish you and all of those closest to you, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.