As the end of 2018 approaches, three more of our Mayoral Leads reflect on the year that has been and look ahead to 2019.
Irene Rainey, Mayoral Lead Voluntary and Community Sector
When we think of Christmas, we picture ourselves getting together with our family and friends, surrounded with love and laughter, feasting on mince pies and (if you’re like me) a little nap in the afternoon. Unfortunately, Christmas isn’t merry for everyone. The extra financial pressure on those already struggling to make ends meet, our elderly neighbours who find themselves alone without visitors or those who are in temporary accommodation, away from sleeping on the street find this time of year harder and more difficult to deal with.
Liverpool is a generous city, never more so than at this time of year. Many of us will be donating to charities that will help them meet demand not just over the next few weeks, but all year long. But let’s recognise our city’s unsung heroes, our army of volunteers that will be out early Christmas morning preparing and hosting lunches to give to our most vulnerable residents, to those who will be making themselves available if someone is desperate and needs someone to talk to, those who will be working in foodbanks to make sure that families have something to eat at Christmas. This year, like every year, I along with many other councillors, will be volunteering myself: organising Christmas parties in Clubmoor ward for our isolated residents and children, delivering Hampers in a Box to our elderly neighbours, and creating Our Christmas, a free fete for everyone to enjoy.
To our city’s volunteers, Christmas isn’t just about how much you spend on a loved one’s present, it’s about the true meaning of Christmas, giving the things that are irreplaceable – our time and our compassion. Volunteers aren’t paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless – and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you do.
Frank Hont, Mayoral Lead for Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Last year Liverpool City Council was invited to take part in a project being managed by Oxford University – “Inclusive Cities”.
Partnering with four other cities (Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol and Peterborough) the aim is to achieve a step change in our approach to the integration of newcomers to the city. But this is not simply a job for the Council and a task group including the community and voluntary sector, the trade unions, social housing providers, arts and culture, the business sector and educators have been working to develop an inclusive narrative.
We are proud to say that Liverpool is a welcoming city and the Council’s recently published Inclusive Growth Plan identifies maintaining community safety and promoting cohesion as a priority.
So, at this time of the year I would urge everyone to think about what they can do personally to help welcome newcomers to our city.
Integration and cohesion is not a special project for the chosen few it is about how we all get on together and secure what is mutually desirable for our families and our communities.
Happy Christmas and let’s all work for a Peaceful New Year.
Don’t be Lonely at Christmas – or at Any Time by Councillors Gerard Woodhouse and Jeremy Wolfson, Mayoral Leads for Older People.
At Christmas we spend time with our family and friends, having that night out with work colleagues and rushing around buying presents. For many of our older people, they will be spending Christmas alone without family and friends to celebrate with. While winter and Christmas is still the time when our older people need the most help, social isolation is present all year long.
There are 1.2 million chronically older people living in the UK (Age UK 2016) with 0.5 million of those older people going at least 5 or 6 days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.
In Liverpool, we recognise the importance of tackling social isolation and loneliness in older people. The Mayor appointed Councillor Gerard Woodhouse and Councillor Jeremy Wolfson as Mayoral Leads for Older People who are working hard on the issue. It’s thanks to our partnership working with local councillors, community groups, the Older People Forum, social landlords, local charities and local businesses that we are able to support activities for our older people.
We are piloting the Safe and Connected Scheme in North Liverpool in partnership with Royal Mail and Age Concern where our postal workers will check in on those who are lonely or vulnerable providing help and support if needed.
We are also working with Liverpool John Moores University on an Intergenerational Skills Café where older people who are often socially isolated are working with children and parents sharing their knowledge and skills.
We have delivered Winter Assistance packs across the city and many older people attended our Christmas parties held in The Florrie as well as in their own communities. As well as this we have organised a number of events working with the Healthy Homes team to help residents with fuel poverty.
So as the season of goodwill is here, let’s carry on that festive cheer all year long so our older people aren’t isolated at Christmas, or at any time. Check on that older, vulnerable person this Christmas, but also throughout the year. Just 5 minutes of your time may be a small amount for you, but would have a big impact on our most vulnerable.