Happy New Year to one and all! I hope that you have all had time to rest and enjoy the company of friends and family over the festive period.
In my last column I wrote about some of the achievements our local young people have attained over the last twelve months and suggested that there is much more was to come.
The festive season is also a time to think of those in our communities who are elderly and may no longer have the family and friends whose company they once enjoyed. Just before Christmas I attended a Bassetlaw ‘Contact the Elderly’ meeting. Contact the Elderly is the only national charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people. The charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over. It was a real pleasure to meet the group and I can assure anyone who are considering joining that they will have a fun and interesting time if they do.
Unfortunately in these days of austerity it is often the elderly who suffer the most. Winter is a particularly dangerous time, especially because over the past five years heating a home has become 63 per cent more expensive. Now over a quarter of households with inhabitants aged over 60 live in fuel poverty and many older people can now only afford to keep part of their home warm. In a country as rich as ours this is a national disgrace.
The elderly are also increasingly affected by the food poverty in the UK. The people who volunteer in ‘food banks’ do brilliant work and try to ensure that no-one goes hungry. However, the fact that so many people are forced to go to food banks in the first place is absolutely unacceptable. I know that many local people donate to food banks as they understand how bad things currently are.
The scale of the problems our society is now facing should make us even more thankful for the volunteers, community and church groups that pick up the pieces and provide a safety net. Volunteers for groups like Contact the Elderly or the local food banks are the unsung heroes of our country.
I have been contacted by Virgin Atlantic regarding their pilot career programme. They are looking for people aged between 13 and 25 to attend an introductory day which will give details about the opportunities they have. No flying experience is necessary and successful recruits can expect to train in both the UK and the US and to be able to fly long-haul flights after 18 months. The introductory day takes place on 24th January. For further details please contact my office on 01909 506200 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 12th January.