Liberal Democrat Views by Mione Goldspink, May, 2022.
The terrible news about the ongoing ghastly war in Ukraine continues to dominate our UK news and to overshadow all our lives as we try very hard to "Keep Calm and Carry On". Many people wish to do something to help. Thousands of UK citizens have offered to be Hosts, which is marvellous, but it is really frustrating that the Home Office is so slow in processing the Visa applications. I still cannot understand why Britain cannot do as other countries do, and issue emergency Visas to admit the Refugees quickly and then complete the full process once they are safely here.
Various Ukrainian support groups are springing up all over the country as communities come together to prepare networks of support for the refugees when they finally arrive. I am involved with one of these groups in Bishop's Stortford - "Bishop's Stortford Hospitality Support", and it is heart-warming to see the large number of volunteer helpers who are coming forward.
Meanwhile, there are domestic problems to face. The high cost of living is hitting people hard. The Food Bank is now helping twice as many people as it did before the pandemic began. It is giving out Fuel Vouchers to help with the cost of electricity and heating as well as Food. Likewise, the Citizens Advice service has found a huge extra need for its help over the last year. Wherever you look there are problems, and the government seems incapable of solving them.
However, on the brighter side, there are a few cheerful news items. The Royal British Legion recently celebrated 100 years of being in Bishop's Stortford, by having a service of Thanksgiving in St.Michael's Church. They give such valuable assistance to injured service men and women and their families that it was fitting that the Poppy Appeal in November last year raised over £50,000, and this was boosted by a special stall/collection in April this year. All these donations demonstrate the appreciation of the Legion which is felt by the community. I say, Thank You, Royal British Legion!
Another organisation which deserves to be thanked, is the charity Kickstart. This charity, which helped over 2,500 job seekers to find employment during its 28 years of existence, has finally closed its doors. Covid brought in changes to the way in which job applications are made, so face to face assistance is no longer so essential. Also, many of the original helpers are now feeling their age, so it came to a natural ending. I say, Thank You, Kickstart!
The Salvation Army is also an organisation which helps many people -people in many different types of need or distress. It is continuing its good work in our Town, and it is now hoping to extend its offering by adapting its Duckett's Wharf building to provide a meeting place as well as an office. I wish it well in this venture, and I thank it for all the good work which it does. I say, Thank You, Salvation Army!
In times of trouble, it is always comforting to find examples of kindness. I hope that we can all think about these, and not dwell on the sad ones, as we look forward to Summer and "Keep Calm and Carry On".
East Herts District Councillor
Lib-Dem Group Leader, EHDC.