Parliamentary panto shouldn't make us forget the caring side of Christmas

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it's easy to get swept along with the flow of preparations and parties. We can have totally unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others to create the perfect celebration. However, as we all know, Christmas is not a perfect time for everyone, it can be lonely, difficult and expensive for many members of our community. Some may have lost a loved one during the year, their grief is felt so acutely at Christmas time. I know how this feels.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 9:19 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:22 am
In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001

Throughout the year, when I spend Fridays in the constituency and throughout recess, I meet people who regularly restore my faith in humanity. They give their time, love and commitment to their communities for no personal reward. They dedicate themselves to improving the quality of life for others. Having the honour to meet, and support, these selfless people is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

This Christmas, I know that many local charities, voluntary organisations and churches will be opening their doors to provide community lunches and companionship to those who are on their own. Food and essentials will be delivered to those in financial hardship. Community centres and groups will be holding festive lunches and children’s parties for their local residents.

In all our local schools, children have been helping local causes as part of their Christmas activities. Pupils bring festive cheer to local care homes by singing carols with residents and many will have preparing boxes of goodies to be sent to children less fortunate than themselves. Throughout the Christmas week, volunteers for charities, such as Surviving Christmas, will be out on the streets supporting the homeless, providing hot meals and medical services.

Caring, as I know only too well, can be particularly difficult and stressful at this time of year. It is hard to join in with the festivities when life is so relentless. That’s why charities such as our local Care for the Carers are so important; helping people know their rights and providing support groups and advice. Our caring community organisations, community buses and day centres all provide a lifeline to so many throughout the year.

So, I know that constituents will join me in thanking all our local volunteers for everything that they do for our communities throughout the year. I should also like to thank those who work in care roles, including in our care homes, hospitals and emergency services as they dedicate their time and skills to helping others and keeping us safe and healthy.

This being pantomime season, I should briefly address the goings on this week in Parliament. I am conscious that many are concerned about the delivery of Brexit and the destiny of our country. I share those concerns and am determined we make this work. Nonsensical scenes, with MPs arguing about whether someone had insulted someone else, will frustrate you as much as they embarrass me. Sadly, insults get thrown around like confetti in the chamber. It should not happen but it equally should not stop us erupting in faux outrage.

MPs self-obsessing, as we did this last week, rather than showing back-bone and giving certainty and a lead to our constituents, is a great source of disappointment to me. What on earth must you all think of us when we have the enormous challenge of Brexit to deliver for you yet we are holding a mutiny in Parliament? I support the Prime Minister’s deal on Europe. This is not only because it delivers the mandated exit to the EU as well as the bed-rock for a new relationship with our neighbours. I also support it because the very people I refer to in local caring roles need Parliament to come together, reach a decision and then move on to the domestic matters which matter to them.

Whatever, the New Year brings with regards to Brexit, my priority will always be to improve the lives of my constituents. I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.