Celebrating Sutton’s Community Spirit

Marian james

Published Thursday, 10th December 2020

Sutton Scene column, Cllr Marian James, Chair of Sutton Council People Committee

As this will be my last Sutton Scene column before Christmas and the new year, I’d like to start by wishing all Sutton residents a peaceful and restful festive season. 

As I look back over the past year, I am so grateful for all that you have given to our community. The pandemic has shone a light on some of the best qualities of our local community. In March over 1,800 of you signed up via our partners at Volunteer Centre Sutton to support others throughout the first lockdown. Your generosity meant that we were able to deliver over 5,800 food parcels and provide over 375,000 phone calls to isolated residents and businesses, as well as a number of other local and borough-wide initiatives. 

While I know that it won’t be possible for everyone to give more at this stage, I would like to highlight some local and London-wide opportunities that have arisen this week. 

This week our voluntary sector partners launched a COVID-19 Christmas appeal, asking if you are able to donate goods, donate your time or donate money to support local people who are struggling this Christmas. It is great news that they raised over £200 for Sutton Giving, the charitable venture from Community Action Sutton improving lives in Sutton and helping to build a brighter future for our borough.

As Chair of The Corporate Parent Forum, I am also delighted that despite the pandemic, the Council will be providing a Christmas day dinner for our care leavers again this year,  working in partnership with Jigsaw4u. We also launched our virtual fundraiser for The Christmas Day Dinner this week. 

While we know that Christmas can be a difficult time for those experiencing loneliness or struggling with finances, we also know that the impact of Covid will sadly reach beyond Christmas and into the new year. Thanks to footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, the issue of free school meals for struggling families was in the media this year. In response to the ongoing need to support families with access to food, Sutton this week was proud to support the launch of a new COVID Community Campaign, along with London Councils, Dame Louise Casey, The Mayor of London and leading food poverty charities. The campaign aims to raise funds to see people through the coming winter months, while also addressing the underlying issues that have caused a situation where so many in our capital are struggling to feed their families. An element of the funding raised via this campaign will also be given to Sutton Giving. 

I deeply wish that we didn’t need campaigns like these. But the tale of the pandemic has been one of two cities – those who have and those who do not. While we have all made many sacrifices in terms of our personal freedoms and day to day activities, the financial impact has not affected everyone equally. For those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to donate, please consider these campaigns that will make a difference to families here in Sutton. 

And finally, if you are in a position of financial difficulty, please ask for support. Our Community Hub, run in partnership between the Council and the voluntary sector, can provide advice on:

  • Grants for if you are concerned about heating your house this winter

  • How to apply for benefits and ensure you are receiving the benefits you’re entitled to

  • Crisis loans and grants

  • Support available if you are concerned about paying your council tax

  • Support if you are concerned about how to afford food

Go to: sutton.gov.uk/howtoaskforhelp or call us on 020 8770 5000, option 6

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