A very different Christmas

22nd December, 2012 7:18 pm

Although there is still a week to go, you can already see that Christmas is different in Brent this year.

I was in my local supermarket doing my family shop last week when I saw something I’ve never seen in Brent before. Volunteers from our local food bank were asking shoppers to buy and donate specific items needed for the bank. I spoke to one the volunteers who told me that the number of people coming to them has risen so dramatically that they have had to do this in order to get enough food each week.

I went to help them out over the weekend and it was heartbreaking to see how over stretched they were, on Monday they broke their own record for the most food vouchers given out in a single day. I hear the same thing from our Citizens Advice Bureau, Residents Associations and from residents on the doorstep. Things have got so bad this year that Christmas as usual is out of question for many of our residents.

And it’s not surprising. Employment in Brent has fallen from 72% in 2008 to 64% this Christmas. Average household income is now as low as £15,000 per year in the poorest parts of the Borough. Over half of our of our households now survive on less than £26,000 and gross pay has fallen by £50 per week from 2009. Average rental prices are rising at 2.9% a year and are now 74% of median income.

Residents have done their best to make ends meet and carry on as normal over the past 4 years but this Christmas is a step too far for many. And it’s not just the poorest who will notice the difference, people of all income levels are being squeezed. Wage freezes and rising food and energy prices mean Christmas will be different for everyone.

Brent Council is doing everything we can to help, based on our key goals of fighting for fairness and strengthening our community. We have a winter warmth scheme providing blankets, clothing and heaters to people in fuel poverty to ensure they are not cold over Christmas. We have kept closures of services to an absolute minimum, are supporting social events for elderly residents with our partners and are providing a special Christmas play scheme to ensure there are fun and affordable things for children to do during the school holidays

However, I believe we also have a responsibility to do more as a party. That is why Brent Labour will be stepping up our campaigning over the Christmas period rather than taking a break. However, we are not asking people to support the party, or harvesting electoral data. Instead, we will simply be helping our community get through the festive period.

We will collect food and donations and distribute them to our poorest residents. We will be helping out at food banks and homeless shelters, and helping them to raise their profile and increase donations. We are organising carol singing and events that bring the community together, and we will be stopping by for a cup of tea and a chat with people who live alone.

Making a difference in our community when people really need it – in the true spirit of community organising, and showing our beliefs in actions rather than words.

Muhammed Butt is the Leader of Brent Council

  • http://www.facebook.com/sue.anderson.1485 Sue Anderson

    It is shameful that this is necessary in one of the richest countries in the world. But since it is, congratulations for taking practical action.

Latest

  • Comment Would calling for a ban on private school be electoral suicide?

    Would calling for a ban on private school be electoral suicide?

    If I’d had a vote in the last election I wouldn’t have voted Labour. I thought its flagship policies were too boring. Any government will invest money, regulate business and adjust taxes to nudge Britain in the direction it wants. Freezing energy bills may have been a good course of action, but what will win my vote are the policies that make a lasting impact. For me, Labour’s choice of leader is insignificant if the party’s biggest promises aren’t reformist […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour needs its centre-left more than ever

    Labour needs its centre-left more than ever

    I’ve decided who I am voting for, but for a lot of this campaign I’ve wanted to abstain, or go on holiday. It has been a pretty difficult time to be on the centre-left of the Labour Party . The quality has been low, and nobody fully reflects people on what we might call ‘the soft left’. Lots of people I respect, generally from the left of the party in some shape or form, have been hugely inspired during the Corbyn […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Sajid Javid could be the sign the electorate is looking for that the Tory party has shed its ‘nasty party’ reputation

    Sajid Javid could be the sign the electorate is looking for that the Tory party has shed its ‘nasty party’ reputation

    This article is from the new Progress pamphlet ‘Face-off’, examining the potential successors to David Cameron as Conservative leader. You can read the full pamphlet here. Few leaders inspire true fear in their opponents. Those that do, do so because they force people to think again about the party they represent. Britain’s most electorally successful politicians, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, were able to reach such heights because they confounded the electorate’s expectations: Blair believed that wealth creation was not […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Tony Blair hits out at Corbyn’s “politics of parallel reality”

    Tony Blair hits out at Corbyn’s “politics of parallel reality”

    Tony Blair has made a new intervention in the Labour leadership contest with an article in today’s Observer, which the paper has splashed with on the front page: The former Labour Prime Minister confesses that he doesn’t “get” frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity, but claims that he is “trying hard” to understand it, and compares it to similar waves of support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the US presidential race. Blair also says he appreciates that his advice against […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Unions Anti-trade union legislation could face legal challenge for contravening human rights

    Anti-trade union legislation could face legal challenge for contravening human rights

    Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is ready to raise the prospect of challenging the Tories’ proposed anti-trade union laws in the courts, claiming it might contravene human rights legislation. Cooper says she has received legal advice that points to potential breaches of Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which preserves the right of freedom of association, including trade unions. The leadership contender will accuse the Conservatives of trying to use their position to cripple the opposition with […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit