I always feel privileged to be the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan but I am especially reminded how fortunate I am at this time of year.
Over the last few weeks I have been able to meet and get involved with a whole host of community groups that have made a difference to the quality of life for so many.
I have been fortunate to be invited to attend a number of concerts in aid of various charities where volunteers have come together to raise funds and help celebrate the festivities.
The RNLI concert and Barry Male Voice’s annual concert, both at All Saints Church were particular highlights. On each occasion the St Athan RAF Voluntary Band were central to the performances – and there is nothing better than singing Christmas carols to music being played by a brass band (I could sing on the top of my voice and no–one would hear me!)
Another highlight was the special service held by the Combined Churches of Barry where all Christian denominations came together at the Salem Baptist Church to hear experiences from Age Concern, Macmillan Cancer Care, the teaching profession and many other support groups. It was an opportunity to thank and pray for those who need support and to the volunteers who contribute so much.
This is where I heard the most moving stories of acts of human kindness which made all the difference to the quality of life of local residents.
Barry has also sported a whole host of craft fairs, school fairs and Christmas festivals. All Saints Church kick started the season with a craft fair held in the church itself, which was a lovely way to attract people into the building.
Barry Memorial Hall has hosted several fairs during the month and Romilly Schools Christmas fair was enormous.
I am looking forward to the annual Vale Council for Voluntary Service celebration this week and a whole host of events to come, including St Mary’s Christmas Tree Festival.
All these events remind us that Christmas is not just the few days around 25th December. It reminds us of our responsibility to help and support the most vulnerable, and enable those charities to do even more.
These types of events demonstrate that community is central to our lives and there is so much positive activity going on. Yet, we need to encourage even more.
If you know of someone who may not be getting the support, fellowship or friendship they need then please let us know. Christmas is a time of celebration and the coming together of friends and neighbours. But is can also be one of the most stressful or lonely times.
I want to act as a bridge to those who are vulnerable. If you know of someone in need, please get in touch. We can then turn the spirit of Christmas in to a year long experience.