John Ross If we all give a lit­tle it can add up to a real dif­fer­ence

Hamilton Advertiser - - JOHN ROSS -

The re­cent chang­ing of the clocks brought a wel­come ex­tra hour of sleep, but it also high­lighted the fact that “the nights are fair drawin’ in” as win­ter quickly descends upon us.

For many peo­ple these dark nights with their au­tumn cel­e­bra­tions, such as Hal­loween and Bon­fire Night can be re­ally good fun, and with the big two - Christ­mas and New Year - just around the cor­ner, it does help take the st­ing out of those chilly win­ter nights.

At my age, I think I would have been push­ing it if I had gone ‘trick or treat­ing’, but I en­joyed hav­ing lo­cal chil­dren call in to tell their one­liner jokes, some of which seem to have been around for­ever.

I love watch­ing fire­works at any time and even though the kids are grown up I can’t wait to cover the front of the house with Christ­mas lights. (Truth be known, I would keep them up all year round if my wife would let me).

I still get ex­cited to see what Santa has brought me on Christ­mas Day, and the chance to share presents, good food and qual­ity time with fam­ily and friends means ev­ery­thing to me.

In fact, I con­sider my­self ex­tremely lucky to be able to en­joy all of these cel­e­bra­tions to the full. But not ev­ery­one can.

There are large num­bers of our fel­low cit­i­zens who find day-to-day liv­ing a con­stant bat­tle, and it’s those less for­tu­nate that I would urge you to con­sider as we en­ter what can be, for some, the hard­est of sea­sons, both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

This in­cludes low-in­come work­ing fam­i­lies and those on ben­e­fits, and in too many cases their prob­lems have been ex­ac­er­bated by the in­tro­duc­tion and roll out of Uni­ver­sal Credit, which has led to many re­cip­i­ents hav­ing to wait more than six weeks be­fore pay­ments are made.

I know very few peo­ple from any group in so­ci­ety that would have enough sav­ings to keep go­ing for that length of time with no in­come.

The lat­est news that 30,000 dis­abled peo­ple could lose their en­ti­tle­ment to non-meanstested ben­e­fits, with those worst af­fected los­ing ben­e­fits of more than £7000 if dis­al­lowed for PIP, is dev­as­tat­ing and will only in­crease the num­ber of peo­ple who will face even fur­ther hard­ship, through no fault of their own.

Be­tween April and June of this year coun­cils had re­ceived 42,005 ap­pli­ca­tions for cri­sis grants from the Scot­tish Wel­fare Fund, and fam­i­lies with chil­dren ac­count for more than a third of those ap­pli­ca­tions.

As we ap­proach win­ter and the fes­tive sea­son, this will bring more un­bear­able chal­lenges to many fam­i­lies. The need for warm cloth­ing to com­bat the se­vere weather, and in­creases in heating and light­ing costs, will see many re­sort­ing to food banks sim­ply to sur­vive.

Food banks are al­ready sup­ply­ing short­term en­ergy me­ter to­kens for fam­i­lies who are un­able to take food which needs to be heated as they can­not af­ford both.

It is hard to imag­ine the men­tal an­guish of par­ents who can’t af­ford to pro­vide even the sim­plest of plea­sures for their chil­dren, and mean­while so­ci­ety ev­ery day churns out ad­verts which show a life­style few will ever en­joy.

But we can all help ease the pain for many of these fam­i­lies. Food banks will gladly ac­cept do­na­tions of a whole range of con­sumer items, and if ev­ery­one adds a cou­ple of prod­ucts to our weekly shops, it soon mounts up and makes a very real dif­fer­ence.

Many food banks are also ac­cept­ing toy do­na­tions and lo­cal faith or­gan­i­sa­tions will also ac­cept toys and games, as will the Sal­va­tion Army and Good­will as well as shel­ters, day care cen­tres, hospi­tals and chil­dren’s homes.

Our po­lice and fire ser­vices, and a whole range of char­ity shops, also ac­cept cloth­ing do­na­tions.

Ev­ery­one in so­ci­ety ben­e­fits from all of us tak­ing care of each other, and most of us have needed a help­ing hand at some time in our lives.

What bet­ter way to re­pay those who have helped us than by of­fer­ing sup­port to oth­ers in their own time of need?

We can all help ease the pain for many fam­i­lies, it soon mounts up and makes a very real dif­fer­ence . . .

Con­cerns Coun­cil­lor John Ross

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