I am very grateful for all the support I have had and for all the amazing work our local party has been doing, both as individual members, what we do together, the incredible hard work of our councillors on Reading Borough Council, in Woodley and Earley and our Reading and District Labour Party officers.
I would also like to thank all those people and community groups who make Christmas special in Reading, Caversham and Woodley, whether they are involved in charities who help those in need, local churches or other faith groups, community groups running Christmas parties, schools, local businesses or many other people and organisations who join in the Christmas spirit.
I’d also like to pay tribute to some of the many groups who do their bit to help those who otherwise might not be able to enjoy Christmas. As a new MP it has been a privilege to meet some of the dedicated volunteers who help those on low incomes who face a particular struggle at this time of year. I find it sobering that Reading and Woodley both have foodbanks. With new pressures such as rising prices and the introduction of Universal Credit cutting the support available for some working families on low incomes, disabled people and other groups, I am afraid that these are likely to be relied on by more people this Christmas.
I should add that I am campaigning for a better deal for vulnerable people so that those on lower incomes do not have to rely on this sort of support. Earlier this week I took part in a live South Today news programme on homelessness and I used this opportunity to challenge the Conservative MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, on the need for the Government to do more to help homeless people; you can view the clip at https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/943274075916505088