A time for us to look out for each other | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column

December is my favourite month of the whole year.

Everywhere you turn our borough looks fantastic. Christmas lights up in Burnley and Padiham town centres and lining the streets in our villages; houses decorated; and the buzz of children excited as Santa makes appearances in schools and at shows.

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I began the week in Parliament as normal on Monday & Tuesday, asking questions of Government on issues from tackling drugs to making sure we have ample supplies of antibiotics. And then it was time to pack up the car, send out my final Christmas cards, and head back to Burnley where I’ve spent the last couple of days. And, like many, I’m now looking forward to a festive break spent with friends and family.

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

But I also wanted to take a moment to reflect on the situation in Ukraine. Because this week we marked the 300th day since Putin’s illegal invasion began. The impacts of that are felt in Ukraine and here at home every day. But as difficult as those impacts are for us – and they are difficult – we cannot afford to shy away.

For as families across our borough start to prepare Christmas dinner on Sunday, families in Ukraine will be sheltering from the stream of attacks that has characterised the year for them. Lights will go out, heating will be non-existent, but the gentle hum of fortitude and resilience will continue. Life will go on in whatever way it can. And I know our thoughts will be with those Ukrainians who have made Burnley their home this year, and who now find themselves separated from their loved ones.

On Sunday of this week, before heading back down to Parliament, I also visited Pendleside Hospice for their Light Up a Life Service. Now an annual tradition, it is a moment for families and friends to come together and remember the life of those who aren’t with us this Christmas.

It was a reminder that while Christmas is a happy time for many, there are some who will struggle. Small things, like checking in on a neighbour or friend just for five minutes on Christmas Day, might make all the difference.

And for those who are alone, there are a wealth of services out there to help including Age UK’s Silver Line (0800 470 8090), SSAFA for armed forces personnel and veterans (0800 260 6767) and the Samaritans (116 123).

I’d like to end by wishing every resident across Burnley, Padiham and all our villages a very merry Christmas.