In my final column of 2015, I’d like to wish all readers of the Peterborough Telegraph a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year,” writes Lisa Forbes, Peterborough City Council.
“Christmas for me is a time for family, for giving and receiving. It’s a time where I feel grateful for all that I have, but it’s also a time I think of other’s, especially those less fortunate, the lonely, those without families, the homeless or just those struggling and finding this time of the year a financial burden.
“This year, I decided to help those who are in need by setting up a food collection point and advertised this to my friends and family on social media. I asked for non-perishable items of food that we could then distribute to local foodbanks. The Peterborough Telegraph advertised it to their readership and Unite the Union kindly agreed to be the drop off point.
“When the idea occurred to me, I had no idea what response I’d get. I’ve had the displeasure to hear from those who think that people who use foodbanks only have themselves to blame for their situation and that perhaps, they aren’t trying hard enough. This was definitely not my experience of the people who had to suffer the indignity of a food hand out when I volunteered at a local foodbank.
“I spoke to people who had recently fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, be that through redundancy, ill-health or an unexpected bill which had in turn forced them to rely on the charity of others to feed themselves and their families. I saw not one person who appeared happy to be there. I thank my lucky stars it is not I relying on the charity of others to feed my children as it’s often said, ‘we’re all just one pay cheque away from financial hardship’.
“I’m pleased to report, the response has been genuinely overwhelming. The generous people of Peterborough have responded in a way that restores faith in the power of community and society and the true meaning of Christmas. This is a story of caring that I wanted to share with you. I’ve been truly heartened and humbled by the amount of goodwill the people of Peterborough have shown by donating food to ensure no one in our great city need go hungry this Christmas and I sincerely thank all those who’ve generously donated and made the appeal a huge success.
“I’d like to end my final column of 2015 by thanking those who’ve enjoyed reading my column and sent messages of support for the subjects I’ve written about or that finds resonance with them.
“People in Peterborough are diverse and that extends to opinion. I appreciate not everyone agrees with my take on things and can be as equally vocal in opposition, but the vast majority agree on the right to freedom of speech, so Speaker’s Corner is a huge success in that those opposing opinions can be heard and the majority of people in Peterborough feel represented as a result.”