Here’s my New Year’s message, which I wrote for the Ham & High, on why we need investment in our communities as we recover from the Covid pandemic. Read it online here or below.
“For more than forty years, Jacksons Lane have served a Christmas Day feast for older and disabled people.
Sadly, Covid has put paid to that this year, but instead their team of volunteers will deliver gifts and food across north London and even livestream a circus performance to help combat loneliness.
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 who fundraised for a new van to deliver food to the vulnerable people who could no longer come to them.
It’s been a privilege to meet so many dedicated volunteers over the past few months as well as many of our keyworkers. These people who’ve worked harder than ever this year caring for our sick, teaching our kids, driving our buses, emptying our bins don’t deserve to have their pay frozen and I’ll continue to fight it – they’ve already been undervalued and underpaid for far too long.
The Pfizer vaccine news brings light at the end of the tunnel, but we go into this festive season knowing that many difficult months lie ahead. Rates of infection are rising sharply and Covid, far from being the great leveller, has lain bare the deep inequalities within our society. The families experiencing lockdown in overcrowded homes, the children struggling to home-educate without a computer or the internet, the gig economy workers who can’t afford to stay home because they won’t get paid. Locally, unemployment has soared by 198% since March and, as I write this, businesses still don’t know if they face the double blow of a devastating no-deal Brexit in a matter of days.
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 Christmas, 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”