'Camden’s community has stood firm despite adversity'

Cllr Luisa Porritt

Cllr Luisa Porritt - Credit: Andrew King Photography

It’s been another tough year, but once again our community has shown resilience and determination to support each other through difficult times. 

This year sadly saw more residents become reliant on food banks, as the government ended the Universal Credit uplift while energy prices rose, National Insurance increased, and furlough ended.

Almost 3,000 more Camden residents claimed Universal Credit in the year to July, bringing the overall number to more than 20,000. Losing the lifeline of that uplift has made many vulnerable to eviction and homelessness. 

The tragic reality of homelessness is evident to the generous residents who volunteer their time on behalf of organisations like Streets Kitchen. They often see 50 rough sleepers between Camden Town and Tottenham Court Road.

There are so many voluntary sector organisations to thank for supporting the most vulnerable. To name a few: JW3; St. Mary’s Church Winter Shelter; New Horizon Youth Centre; South Hampstead Synagogue; West Hampstead Community Food Hub; Emmanuel Church; Castlehaven Community Centre; Camden Mobile Food Bank; Kentish Town Community Centre and The Winch.

Many organisations and schools in Camden also stepped forward to help refugee families from war-torn Afghanistan. We are all so grateful.

Our community continues to be challenged by Covid-19, especially as we contend with a new variant.

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Some 30-35% of eligible Camden residents had not had their first vaccine as of 20 December. That’s a worrying statistic, given we know those who are unvaccinated are more vulnerable to this new wave. If you haven’t had your first, second or booster jab, please book it ASAP – it could save your life and others’ lives too.

Finally, spare a thought for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella, who will spend their sixth Christmas apart instead of together in West Hampstead. To help, please download the song Naz Don’t Cry – proceeds go to Redress who are helping the family to secure justice.

2022 will no doubt bring fresh challenges, but I know that we will continue to face them together. 

Luisa Porritt is leader of Camden Liberal Democrats and councillor for Belsize ward.