Words: Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves
With so many small businesses struggling to survive, there has never been a more crucial time to support our local shops.
The impact of Covid-19 has been profound, with many retailers now fighting to stay afloat.
Events like Small Business Saturday on December 5 have helped them at what should be their busiest period.
It will be much harder this year for small businesses in Leeds West to make ends meet because many have been forced to remain closed for so long. However, in response to the pandemic, many have found new ways to trade, including click and collect and online sales.
In the run-up to Christmas and into the New Year and beyond, please consider visiting any that are open and ordering online to support our local businesses.
Schools have remained open throughout the pandemic, initially for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
In September, they opened fully, and I have been in regular contact with local school leaders to discuss the logistical and budgetary challenges they have faced, particularly the challenges they have faced with supplying online learning to pupils who have had to remain at home. We owe our school leaders and school staff in general a real debt of gratitude – they really deserve their Christmas break!
As well as regular meetings with school leaders, I have also had some online meetings with some local school councils. This is always a real pleasure as children ask the most interesting and often unexpected questions, such as “What is your favourite crisp flavour?”
Thanks to the school councils from Cobden, Armley Park and Whingate for keeping me on my toes. I have several more school council meetings planned which I am looking forward to. I am also keen to start visiting schools again as soon as the rules permit.
One of the few things that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic was my annual Primary School Christmas Card competition. This year, the theme was “Celebrating our Key Workers” to highlight their fantastic efforts during the pandemic.
As ever, there was a strong field of entries to choose from so judging was extremely hard. The eventual winner was Ziyi from Beecroft Primary School. Congratulations also to the two runners up – Corey from Whingate and Esme from Valley View.
Tier 3 Leeds
Leeds remains under Tier 3 restrictions. This has meant that my office staff and I are continuing to work remotely wherever possible.
I am visiting local businesses and constituents in person when I am able to in accordance with the current guidelines on Covid-19. However, the current restrictions mean that the majority of my constituency work continues to be via Zoom calls, by telephone and letter. Surgeries are still running via online appointments.
Please ring my office on 0113 2552311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with anything or would like to book a surgery appointment.
Supporting the lonely and vulnerable at Christmas
Christmas is a particularly tough time for those who live alone or feel isolated. In memory of my friend Jo Cox, I have worked with the Jo Cox Foundation, set up after her death in 2016, to continue Jo’s brilliant work on social isolation. Loneliness is a very real issue for so many in our society. For many people, feelings of isolation have been heightened by the pandemic.
According to a Royal Voluntary Service poll, one in five people fear they will not see anyone over Christmas and 16 per cent said they were “dreading” the holiday. That’s why it’s so important that we all do what we can to help.
Our local hubs will continue to provide support throughout the holiday period. Please contact them if you are feeling lonely or isolated.
New Wortley Community Centre: www.newwortleycc.org
Armley Helping Hands: www.armleyhelpinghands.org.uk
Kirkstall Valley Development Trust: www.kvdt.org.uk
BARCA Leeds: www.barca-leeds.org
Whilst not a designated “hub”, Bramley Elderly Action, along with Bramley Care Bears, provide extensive support in the local area. www.bramleyea.org.uk
If you need help with food and bills, you can contact Leeds City Council on: 0113 376 0330 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) or http://www.leeds.gov.uk/…/coun…/help-with-food-and-bills
Some people may find these contacts useful:
Leeds Women’s Aid: www.leedswomensaid.co.uk
Leeds Mind: www.leedsmind.org.uk
Even if you do not call upon these services, you might wish to take part in this month’s Great Winter Get Together organised by the Jo Cox Foundation, where everyone is being encouraged to get in touch with friends and neighbours who might need support, perhaps through a socially distanced walk, a phone call or a chat online. It is a fantastic idea and we should do all we can to help avoid people feeling lonely – not just at Christmas, but all year round.
Sending Christmas best wishes to you all.