#Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th December 2012

With the endless playlist of old number ones and the lights sparkling across the Town Centre it is clear that Christmas is now well upon us. It’s good to see that the town’s shops are doing well and that people are gearing up for what will hopefully be a happy holiday.

However in the season of giving it is worthwhile spending a moment to think about those who won’t be waking up a celebration this year. One of the stories which has received significant coverage, both nationally and locally, in 2012 has been the rise in homelessness and it is worth sparing a thought for those affected.

Even before the government’s changes to housing benefit policy we were facing a massive increase in the numbers of registered homeless and this month Shelter, the homelessness charity, has announced an 80% increase in demand for their advice service. For families living within this state of chaos the possibility of a real Christmas holiday must seem very remote.

It’s also worth sparing a thought for the millions of elderly Britons for whom Christmas remains a time of loneliness rather than community. All too often we leave our most senior citizens out in the metaphorical cold and forget that Christmas is supposed to be a time when we reach out to others. Much more needs to be done to ensure that growing old doesn’t mean going it alone.

Lastly, spare a thought this Christmas for the thousands of public sector workers up and down the country who as emergency staff will be giving up their 25th December to make sure that the rest of us can enjoy ours in safety. They are facing the third year of a pay freeze in 2013 and yet despite difficult circumstances are working hard to provide the services which keep this country running.

So, as you sit down to open your presents this year or tuck into the turkey it’s worth spending a moment to ask yourself if there is anything in which you can do in 2013 to help make sure that Christmas next year reaches a few more people. Happy holidays.

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