A time to think of others

FOR some the festive period brings a welcome break, for others it's the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and for others the time of year to celebrate their faith.

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For many it's a chance to over indulge, something we are all pretty good at.

Christmas is a fantastic time in our city; I love the George Square lights, the great atmosphere as people go about getting ready for Christmas and New Year's day and the way Glaswegians seem to go the extra mile to help others.

Sadly, however, for too many in our great city, Christmas and New Year's will have been dominated by the daily struggle to balance the household budget and face up to the difficult choice between heating and eating.

And while Christmas and New Year is a good time to look back at the year past, take stock and to look forward to the year ahead, for many the year past will have been a hard one, and the year ahead another one full of struggle.

I wrote in my last column about my experience visiting a Glasgow foodbank and the sad fact that they even exist today in Scotland.

Changes to the benefits system, cuts in working hours, rising fuel costs and increased food costs are all stretching household budgets to the limits.

IT IS an appalling fact that as we move into 2013 thousands of people across Glasgow and Scotland are having to rely on food hand-outs.

Those for whom feeding their family on Christmas Day was a worry like any other day, who rather than trying to find room for seconds relied on strangers to ensure they had enough feed their children.

And Glaswegian generosity shone through at the foodbank in Govanhill, just as it does across the country.

I have no doubt that for many who drop off even just a few items of food, they have their own struggles and worries.

To support families they don't know or have never met is a fantastic reflection of their support for others less fortunate than themselves.

I also want to praise those who work year round to help us locally and those who are not able to spend this special time with their families.

From the armed forces serving abroad on our behalf to the public servants working in hospitals or care homes, your work is vital in supporting others and I thank you for the work you do, much of which is unheralded.

So as we look forward to 2013, please spare a thought for others.

But before we reach 2013 we have New Year to celebrate.

So no matter what you have planned, whether you have a big party, or a quiet night in, I hope that everyone enjoys bringing in the New Year as safely as possible and I wish you and yours all the best for 2013.

Families

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