Don’t forget those who may be feeling lonely

It is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas.

Michelle Donelan’s column in the Gazette & Herald 23 December 2016

With Christmas Day falling at the weekend, there are additional bank holidays on Monday and Tuesday. It is at this time of the year when many of us can hopefully enjoy a good break. This is particularly welcome for those of us fortunate to have family and friends near at hand. We must spare a thought though for those in our community who lack anyone else with whom to share this special time. I encourage anyone who is able to be a good neighbour over Christmas to drop in to see someone who is on their own, or who may be vulnerable or lonely.

I also thank those who either choose or have to work on Christmas Day to keep vital services going. From the clergy to carers, doctors, nurses, police and other emergency services, there are always some people working when the rest of us are at rest. I also express gratitude to all those who serve in the Armed Forces, particularly those who are unable to be with their loved ones over the festive season, who continue to work at a time when most of us are enjoying ourselves with our family and friends.

There are several festive events taking place over the Christmas period which will help support local businesses or charities. Why not enjoy a festive afternoon tea and Santa’s Grotto at Woolley Green, Bradford on Avon, visit the amazing ‘Drawn to the Land’ by Sophie Gerrard art gallery in High Street, Lacock, or take the opportunity to visit Father Christmas at locations in Chippenham, Melksham or Corsham. For more information go to visitwiltshire.co.uk.

There will be no waste or recycling collections on Monday 26th December and all collections will be one day later than normal with an additional collection on New Year’s Eve. For more information visit wiltshirecouncil.gov.uk.

The NHS non-emergency ‘111’ service is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and calls are free from landlines and mobiles. Of course, if a medical situation is life-threatening, you should always phone 999.

Christmas can exacerbate any personal problems, loneliness or grief so demand for services such as the Samaritans’ is highest during loneliest time. Whatever you’re going through, you can always call them free any time, from any phone on 116 123.

With that I wish you a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year and look forward to meeting and helping even more local residents whenever I am able throughout the New Year. I hope that during the seasonal celebrations and the merriment we can spare a thought for those who are not as fortunate as ourselves and may not be able to share and enjoy this festivities.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas.