Things are tough for lots of people right across Tameside, and indeed across the whole country. With inflation rising, cost of living soaring, and energy bills reaching stratospheric levels, I totally understand that for many people its difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Over the Easter weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting on the current cost of living crisis. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the deluge of difficulties that people are having to face. Whilst it is my job as an MP to push to Government to do more and to help people in Tameside, I am also struck by the incredible things that local people are doing to help one another.
Whenever I feel cynical and frustrated at the state of national politics, I’m always reminded of the incredible things that people are doing on a daily basis to make a difference.
Take Pauline Town, for example, who I’ve written about in the past. Pauline has been helping out homeless people and handing out free lunches from her pub, The Station in Ashton-under-Lyne, for almost a decade. She now has around 100 regulars and is doing incredible work in supporting people who would otherwise be ignored.
She was recently awarded an MBE, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the honour.
Tameside Council also have a useful list which sets out the current food support in the borough. This includes Tameside East Foodbank, as well as The Bread and Butter Thing, a charity that aims to make life more affordable for people on low incomes. There is also St Mary’s Church & Community Food Bank in Haughton Green, which has grown into a three-times-a-week emergency food provision service for those across Tameside.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that these kinds of initiatives shouldn’t be necessary, and that people who need it should be supported by the Government. One day, I hope to see a day when they won’t be necessary. Until then, however, it is really inspiring to see local people stepping up and changing lives.
People like Pauline really inspire me, and I would encourage any residents who are watching this crisis unfold and feeling helpless, to get involved with the various volunteering groups across the community.
We are living in difficult times, but if we continue to stick together and look out for one another, we can and will make a difference.