The temperature is beginning to fall, Michael Bublé is defrosting, and we’re slowly but surely approaching the festive season.

Christmas is a time for joy, family, friends and kindness. But for many people this year, Christmas will feel very different. The cost-of-living crisis, soaring energy bills and the continuing catastrophic consequences of the Tory minibudget will be worrying people right across the UK, who will be wondering how on earth they will afford to get food on the table, let alone enjoy the festivities.

We are going through hard times. As is always the case here in Tameside, however, local people are stepping up and doing their utmost to help those who are struggling. Recently, Action Together launched its Tameside Toy Appeal 2022. This initiative has been running for many years, and through donations gives gifts to children most in need. Last year, over 7,000 toys and gifts were donated to children right across Tameside.

The Tameside Reporter have a very handy list of all the drop-off points right across Tameside at www.questmedianetwork.co.uk/tameside-toy-appeal. The appeal will be accepting donations up until the 9th of December.

We’re also seeing local-led food banks doing an extraordinary amount to help those in need. St Mary’s Church in Haughton Green and Tameside East Food Bank in Dukinfield are just some of the brilliant food bank access points. There’s also The Bread and Butter Thing, which provides families and individuals with food banks for £7.50-a-week (the packs themselves often contain over £35 of food in them).

For a full list of food banks and local pantries visit www.tameside.gov.uk/healthyeatingandnutrition/foodbanks. You can also call Tameside Council on 0161 342 8355 for more support.

It goes without saying that I wish we lived in a world where food banks were not necessary; where people across Tameside had access to high-quality, affordable meals and the Government made sure that those who needed support could access it. It’s a sad indictment of 12 years of Tory rule that the number of people accessing food bank support has increased by 2 million since 2010.

However, where the Government is failing the Tameside community is stepping up, and that is something we should be incredible proud of.

I’ll keep supporting this work in whatever way I can locally and in Parliament and would like to take a moment to sincerely thank all the people across Tameside who are working hard to make a difference over these tough winter months.

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