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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Looking After Others This Christmas

Friday, 17 December 2021

Before I start this week’s blog, it gives me no pleasure to report that the fears about the new “Omicron” variant of coronavirus appear to have been well-founded. As of Friday last week infection rates were on the increase everywhere in Greater Manchester, including Tameside.

In response the government has passed a series of new measures to combat the spread of this new strain. Face coverings are now mandatory in all public indoor venues, with the exception of hospitality like restaurants and pubs, and you are advised to work from home if at all possible until further notice. In addition an NHS Covid Pass will now be required for entry into nightclubs or other large settings, using a negative lateral flow test or proof of full vaccination via the NHS Covid App. I know this is not the situation any of us wished to face so close to Christmas, but until we get to grips with this latest challenge, please wear your facemask, get your vaccinations, and do your best to protect yourself and those around you.

 

While for some of us the run-up to Christmas is a time to relax with friends and family and reflect on the year gone by, the unfortunate fact is that for an increasing number of people in Tameside and the wider country the reality at Christmas is one of hunger, poverty and want. The government has chosen to end a number of programmes that supported people through the pandemic, including the furlough scheme and the £20 uplift to Universal Credit. This has also been exacerbated by increases in fuel poverty, food insecurity and financial instability as a result of the new cost of living crisis. A number of organisations and charities, including the Childhood Trust and the Resolution Foundation, have already sounded the alarm that this winter is likely to be the hardest in decades for many individuals, children and families.

It’s for this reason that we’ve asked Tameside residents to support, if they can, a number of charity schemes to ensure that no family in the borough goes hungry or without a present this Christmas. The first of these is the Tameside Toy Appeal. Organised by local charity network Action Together, for the past several years they have worked tirelessly to gather and distribute age-appropriate toys for babies, children and young people aged 0-18 living in poverty across Tameside. Despite taking place during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020 the Tameside Toy Appeal and its army of volunteer donation elves and sleigh riders succeeded in collecting well over 10,000 toys, and I’ve got no reason to doubt that they’ll be able to break that record this year.

 

The other charity I want to highlight is The Bread and Butter Thing, an initiative that works in partnership with Tameside Council and local voluntary organisations to tackle poverty and reduce waste by distributing surplus food at a heavily reduced price. Anyone can sign up to become a member of The Bread and Butter Thing, and by paying £7.50 they will receive approximately £35 of store cupboard staples and fresh food, including fruit and vegetables. This means that, even on a tight budget, parents will be able to provide their families with a nutritious, varied and high-quality diet. From humble beginnings, and thanks to the dedication of over 300 volunteers, The Bread and Butter Thing has now expanded to open food hubs in Droylsden, Haughton Green, Stalybridge, Hattersley and Ashton-under-Lyne.
 
I’ve said before that the existence of high levels of poverty and large numbers of food banks in one of the richest economies in the world is nothing short of a national disgrace, and I look forward to the day when there will be no need for me to write a blog like this. Until then however, there are families in Tameside that need our support here and now. As we have done consistently over the past two years, let’s rally together to make sure that everybody has something to celebrate this Christmas.
 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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