Any way you look at it, 2016 has been a really turbulent year politically.
In Syria the carnage has been dreadful, and the nihilistic barbarism of Isis continues to spread its tentacles into Europe. Donald Trump to be the new President in the US, even our own Brexit. Whatever one’s views, certainly seismic political events. It seems to me that the one word which sums up 2016 best is entrenchment. Each side of any argument, conflict or opinion digging ferociously into their own position whilst hurling rocks at the other either literally or metaphorically.
Even locally, we have the ongoing saga of Southern Rail. The government, the rail company and the unions totally dug in. Each refusing to compromise, each preferring like so many others this year, the ‘rock throwing’ route.
So, is my Christmas message this year all bleak? Nope. There is another way. Of co-operation, of support, and I saw a wonderful local example of this just the other day.
I was contacted by a council service called Through Team who support youngsters from foster and residential care between the ages of 16 – 21, and they asked if I could help get some presents for these young people, for a Christmas party the team were putting on for them. I was delighted to do this as let’s face it; you’re 17 years old, been in foster care all your young life and it’s Christmas time, family time, and you don’t have many presents or a loving family atmosphere to revel in? It’s a tough break, a really tough break!
I asked the team how many presents they would like and they told me 50: 25 for the boys and 25 for the girls. So I went out to Eastbourne and asked, and you responded.
More than 200 presents were donated, an absolutely astonishing figure. I had the pleasure of attending their Christmas party this week, and it was a privilege to be there.
There are many reasons folks why I love Eastbourne, and its profound sense of community is one of them. Thank you. Happy Christmas to you all.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Eastbourne