The Politically Speaking column with Tracy Brabin MP

VITAL SERVICE: The Batley Food Bank volunteers are expecting a busy time this Christmas.
VITAL SERVICE: The Batley Food Bank volunteers are expecting a busy time this Christmas.

The day is nearly upon us, and I hope everyone is going to have the opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved break over the festive period.

At this time of year it’s only natural to look back at some of the highlights during year just gone and look forward to the 12 months ahead.

Indeed, when I think of this time last year. I’d been your representative in Parliament for just a couple of months.

Finding my feet and hurriedly planning for the years ahead.

In parliament the year started with significant Brexit votes, followed by the triggering of Article 50.

Then, almost out of the blue those plans I’d made were out the window as we entered into the general election.

It might seem strange but the election was one of my highlights of the year, I loved campaigning, spending weeks on end knocking on doors, discussing your hopes and priorities for the future.

Then I returned to the toing and froing of Westminster, but it’s our community that’s my priority.

And what a show we put on in August! You might know how important the arts and culture is to me and those performances by our young people of Les Misérables in the Oxfam warehouse, were beautiful, spectacular and won’t be forgotten any time soon.

But the truth is my role isn’t all joy, I’ve become acutely aware of the rising food poverty over recent months and food banks are bracing themselves for their busiest Christmas yet.

Earlier this month I asked whoever could spare a little to donate it, I know Batley Food Bank is grateful to everyone who has given but they can always use more as they’re getting busier and busier.

Indeed, at a Heckmondwike winter festival this weekend we tried to break to record of the world’s tallest toilet roll wall to remind people to donate to food banks.

Food poverty is one of the things I hope we tackle in the next twelve months and so is education.

Two Fridays ago I hosted an education summit at Upper Batley High School, welcoming 19 of our head teachers to discuss the future of education and what I can do in my role to support our schools.

I was blown away by their passion and commitment to our young people.

The truth is their jobs have been made harder in recent years as budgets are tight and all of our schools are facing a real terms cut in funding over the coming years.

That’s one of the challenges for the year ahead, but before that, there’s last minute gifts to buy, mulled wine to drink and lots of Christmas-themed events to attend.

However you spend your Christmas day, I hope it’s peaceful and full of joy.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas.