MAYOR Councillor Phelim Gildernew set aside tradition this year and instead of sending a Mayoral Christmas card is communicating greetings by email and donating £1000 to help local people in need.
Speaking as to how he reached the decision the Mayor stated: “Christmas, although a great time for meeting up with family and friends is an expensive time. In the current economic climate many people are struggling to put food on tables much less participate in the razzamatazz which now marks the festive season. Many of our children are living in poverty, statistics show that this ranges from 20% for the Borough in general and where deprivation is high in the Neighbourhood Renewal areas as much as 45%. Our churches are running food banks for families in need of emergency supplies. Thus I feel money that I would have spent on Christmas cards, postage and hosting groups at this time is better spent helping those in need. I also would take this opportunity to commend both St Vincent de Paul and Vineyard Church Dungannon for the work they are carrying out helping those in need.”
Both the St Vincent de Paul and Vineyard Church Dungannon were delighted with this approach. Thanking the Mayor for the donation, Daragh Shields stated: “ St Vincent de Paul continues to enjoy support from the public we are aware of the increased pressure on people to donate especially at this time of year. Thus we greatly appreciate the action of the Mayor and will ensure it is used to help those most in need.”
Sharon Cummings, Compassion Pastor from Vineyard Church took the opportunity to show the Mayor just some of the items including Christmas hampers which would be distributed to those in need stating: “ Thank you! This very kind donation will go towards our Outward Focused Christmas Appeal to help bring Christmas alive to those who have no hope, to show God’s love in really practical ways and to be able to say that our town is a great place to grow up in and a great place to grow old in.”
Council continually strive to make our borough a new place where people are proud to live, work and invest in now and in the future, One of our greatest challenges in realising this is in trying to combat the deprivation and poverty some areas of the borough are experiencing. Councillors lobby continually regarding welfare reform, improved health care services, employment, housing, health and education. We value greatly work carried out by Local Anti Poverty Network and Disability Forum in supporting Council in these issues. This partnership working striving for the greater good of all will hopefully one day seek to alleviate some of the poverty issues local people are experiencing,