By Pauline Latham MP
This Christmas, many of us will be spending time eating, drinking and generallymaking merry with our families. It is a time of year when most are at their most generous, and spend our money on laying on extravagant meals and buying presents for our friends and family. Whilst the festive season is undoubtedly a happy time of year for most, it is also one that many can ill afford, and some even struggle to feed their families. One organisation, which will seek to prevent families from going hungry this Christmas, is Hope for Belper, run by Mr Gareth Greenwood. Hope for Belper operates a volunteer-run food bank, called the Basic Idea, which is a franchise of the Trussell Trust. Since becoming a Member of Parliament, I have had to refer a number of my constituents to the scheme, and I have always been impressed with their volunteers’ compassion and readiness to help those most in need.Earlier this year, I visited Hope for Belper’s headquarters, to thank their staff for all the fantastic work they do for the people of Mid Derbyshire, as well as to see how their operation runs. It was heartening to meet the different people working there, with young and old alike working together to pack the boxes they send out to their service users. From speaking to some of the volunteers, it was clear that they give up their time for no other reason than the love of their community, and I am very pleased that such an organisation is there to support my constituents should they need it. Hope for Belper will be running a number of events over the festive period, including handing out hot chocolate at Belper Town Council’s annual carol service on 24thDecember. Despite the festivities, Hope for Belper will not be forgetting the vital role it plays in the community and will be teaming up with the children from the Belper Children’s Centre, who will be helping to put together Christmas hampers for local families in need. I cannot emphasise enough how important the work of Hope for Belper is in the local community. If you would like to donate some food or some of your time to this fantastic cause, please visit their website at www.hopeforbelper.com for details of how you can get involved. On a final note, I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!