New year message: We need investment in communities in 2021
Catherine West MP
- Credit: Chris McAndrew
For more than 40 years, Jacksons Lane has served a Christmas Day feast for older and disabled people.
Sadly, Covid put paid to that this year, but instead their team of volunteers delivered gifts and food across north London.
There are lots of examples like this of our strong Haringey community coming together to help others during this difficult year.
From the mutual aid groups that sprang up during lockdown to charities like the Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen which fundraised for a new van to deliver food to the vulnerable people who could no longer come to them.
It has been a privilege to meet so many dedicated volunteers over the past few months as well as many of our keyworkers. These people - who have worked harder than ever this year caring for our sick, teaching our kids, driving our buses and emptying our bins - don’t deserve to have their pay frozen and I’ll continue to fight it. They have already been undervalued and underpaid for far too long.
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The Pfizer vaccine news brings light at the end of the tunnel, but we went into this festive season knowing there will be many difficult months ahead.
Far from being the great leveller, Covid has laid bare the deep inequalities within our society; from the families experiencing lockdown in overcrowded homes to the children struggling to home-educate without a computer or the internet and the gig economy workers who can’t afford to stay home because they won’t get paid.
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Locally, unemployment has soared by 198% since March and there must be no return to Tory austerity as we come out of this crisis.
It didn’t work last time and it won’t again. Instead, we need to see investment in our communities, in retraining workers, rebuilding businesses, creating a zero-carbon future and tackling our housing shortage.
2020 has been a year few will be sorry to see the back of. Parents often reassure their children when times are scary by saying “look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping”. This new year, as we look ahead to the challenges 2021 will bring, I give thanks to every single one of the “helpers” who have kept our community going.
You can support Haringey Giving’s Covid-19 appeal at www.haringeygiving.org.uk
- Catherine West is Mp for Hornsey and Wood Green.