HELEN BURTON: It’s been a busy and interesting year

Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001
Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001

Well, we’re coming to the end of another year trying to live ethically, and it’s been a busy one. Personally speaking it’s been a very difficult year for me, and the fact that I have been able to distract myself with my ‘project work’ has been a blessing. The idea that when you help others you help yourself is certainly true.

Standing as a candidate for Wealden District Council and Pevensey Parish Council was definitely one of the highlights of my year and not something I ever imagined myself doing. Whilst I did not win a district seat I was elected to Pevensey Parish Council and I am proud to serve my community in this role.

In May I lived off £1 a day for five days in order to raise money for charity and highlight the issue of food poverty. It taught me a lot, and I was shocked to learn that a third of families in Eastbourne are living below the poverty line. As part of exploring those issues I visited the Foodbank and the charity Furniture Now to see the great work they are doing in Eastbourne and I became interested in the work of the Eastbourne People’s Assembly who offer alternative solutions to the Government’s policy of austerity. I also visited the Real Junk Food Café in Brighton and have been working on setting one up in Eastbourne. The cafés intercept waste food from supermarkets, farmers etc and then serves it on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis, reducing food waste and providing nutritious meals in the process. We now have a venue and we also have the support of the Foodbank. Our next meeting for volunteers is January 11 at 10am at Elim Family church, Hartfield Road, Eastbourne.

In September I donated a caravan to the Calais refugee camp which was painted beautifully by volunteers and it was even photographed in a Huffington Post article, quite a coup! Sadly my donation was only a drop in the ocean compared to what is still needed but it all helps. Others locally continue to do a great job in providing relief, you can follow their work on Facebook at Eastbourne Refugee Support, Sussex. For me the refugee crisis is still the most urgent of issues and I find it hard to understand why the government isn’t providing a co-ordinated effort to support refugees, but I am glad that UK citizens have stepped in to help where they can. The power of the individual to make a difference has been apparent to me this year and it has been inspiring to meet so many others in Eastbourne and the surrounding areas who are working hard to make things better.

I’m working on several other projects locally that you will know all about if you are a regular reader and have lots of ideas in the pipeline for next year, in the meanwhile I am looking forward to a rest over Christmas! Have a good one!