At this time of year, as the fortunate come together with family and friends to celebrate the festive season, it is important to remember those for whom the long-dark nights and cold, damp days are not a happy time. For some, Christmas can be a very lonely time of year.
The challenge we face as a community is to bring encouragement to one another and support those who are alone, vulnerable, or are facing bereavement or hardship.
It is not easy to reduce the pain that some are feeling, but having a positive attitude and coming together to support each other, really can help us to get through these difficult times.
I have a somewhat utopian vision of society as one extended family, a single community where the most vulnerable are supported by the strongest, with values of mutual respect and a common sense of community cohesion. I always try to think of those less fortunate and spend time speaking to, or sending a card to, those who I know are alone. Is there someone you know in your street who lives alone? Is someone going through a hard time and could they do with a friend? Please, give them a call, or pay them a visit.
My wish for our community this Christmas is simply this – be a Good Samaritan to someone. I believe that there is more to life than simply caring for ourselves and our own interests, however important or challenging they may be. Spend a moment to think about what could be done for others.
I often reflect on how volunteering is changing lives locally. Not just those who benefit from the volunteer’s time, but also the volunteer themselves. The spirit of volunteering, just like Christmas, is in the act of giving and receiving. Its a worry that many seem to think that volunteering is about self-sacrifice and “unpaid work”. Our lives are full and busy, but if we see volunteering as an activity that is about giving up our precious time without a reciprocal return you miss out on the most important part of volunteering. By volunteering we all feel good!
There is an unlimited amount of different ways we can volunteer. Volunteering is deeply personal, and expresses what’s important to us. The community spirit of volunteering is friendly, uplifting and rewarding – it’s the true spirit of Christmas. It we take the time to think of others this Christmas, we will kick off 2016 in a positive mood, ready for the challenges ahead.
To all those of all faiths, and to those of none, I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2016.