Those of you who know me, know that I’m a big believer in encouraging local businesses to engage with and strengthen community ties.

It’s one of the reasons I set up my annual Local Business Awards – to celebrate businesses that go above and beyond for their customers and recognise the vital role they play in building strong and prosperous communities.

With that in mind, last week I went along to the food bank at St Mary’s church in Haughton Green and met Brett Casterton from Inology I.T.

Inology I.T. is a technology consultancy firm based in Denton, and last week Brett took time out of the working day to deliver a donation from his company to the food bank at St Mary’s.

It was great chatting to Brent about what he saw as Inology I.T’s responsibility – as a local business – to help the community in Tameside.

I think it’s sometimes forgotten that businesses are nothing without the people who make them. As Brett said to me last week, staff from Inology I.T. live in Haughton Green, they have friends, neighbours and families, and want to do right by their community.

There’s no doubt that we’re in tough times, and to get out of them, we’re going to need all hands-on deck. That means people looking out for each other, but also companies too. I hope that the actions of Inology I.T. will inspire other businesses across Tameside to do whatever they can to help those in need.

If you work for a business that is doing good, please get in touch with me or my office and I’d be more than happy to spread the word. Likewise, if you think your company could do something positive in the community, maybe have a chat to your line manager, or lead the initiative yourself. There’s really no end to what we can do locally with some determination and collaboration.

As this column is my final one for this year, it wouldn’t be complete without a final thank you for 2022 to all the volunteers at St Mary’s Church, and in every single food bank across Tameside. Your work is quite literally saving lives, and I know I speak for every resident across the borough when I pass on my profound gratitude for everything you are doing.

All that remains is for me to say a final Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone across Tameside, and I’ll see you in 2023!

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