Denise Jeffery writes: When I look back over this momentous year – as we prepare for what we hope will be a more normal Christmas - I am incredibly impressed by how we have worked together and come together in times of need.
We have all faced so many challenges over these past 12 months, including a third lockdown in January, adverse weather such as snow and flooding early in the New Year and parents, children and schools all having to deal with home schooling and remote learning.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult year, but I am proud of how our residents have come together and risen to these challenges. What has impressed me is the resilience of our communities, the kindness shown to neighbours, the many volunteers helping out in the heart of their communities, and the donations of school equipment to help those most in need.
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I am incredibly proud of all those who have been there for others in these difficult times – NHS workers, charities, volunteers, and our own council staff. We continue to provide support to those in need, such as through our community hubs offering vital services, information and advice.
During the pandemic for many of us our priorities have altered. For example, I know our parks and green spaces have never been more important. We have invested additional resources to these amazing spaces where we can meet friends and experience all the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors.
During this year we began to see a glimmer of hope starting as more and more people received their vaccinations. This was followed by a return to some normality - as people were welcomed back into our towns and city centre.
We were delighted to be able to hold events, such as our Festival of the Earth - activities that provided events both remotely and in person that highlighted the challenges the planet faces – and how we can all make a difference to tackle climate change.
And in more recent weeks, our Light Up events and Christmas lights, developed with partners, have truly put a spotlight on our district, with a range of family events to celebrate the season.
It was an amazing way to start the festive season, as many of us plan to spend time with family and friends, something so many of us missed last year.
I wish everyone a happy Christmas but please ask everyone to stay safe, for us all to play a part to help us maintain the progress we’ve made this year as we tackle Covid. Unfortunately, the threat isn’t over. We must all do what we can to support families, friends, and communities.
Please remember we are still here for you over the festive period. Essential services will be open, and residents can contact us for help and support in the event of any emergencies or severe weather. Visit http://www.wakefield.gov.uk for Christmas opening times for all our services.
I am sure that the spirit and pride of our district will continue to shine into the New Year and, along with the support of this council, will make for an even stronger 2022.