Returning home to Suffolk after a demanding schedule in Westminster remains one of my favourite parts of the week.
There is always plenty to do throughout Suffolk all through the year, but especially so during the build-up to Christmas.
We have such a fantastic range of small and independent retailers, not to mention farm shops and local producers, and it’s very important that we do our best to support our local economy
The dedication and commitment of our local community volunteers is to be absolutely commended.
I’m very much looking forward to visiting a number of Christmas events and markets over the coming weeks.
We have such a fantastic range of small and independent retailers, not to mention farm shops and local producers, and it’s very important that we do our best to support our local economy.
Finding the time for Christmas shopping is always a challenge, so I’ll certainly be taking the opportunity to buy locally and stock up on some gifts and presents.
I always look forward to Christmas at home in Suffolk, spending time with friends and family and making time to relax and enjoy a break away from everyday business.
Spending time together, away from the daily pressures of work, is so important for us all, but we should also remember those who may be spending Christmas without their loved ones, perhaps an elderly neighbour or those who are remembering family who are no longer here.
We have a great sense of community spirit here in Suffolk and many churches and community organisations have boxes set aside to collect donations of food for those less fortunate than ourselves, so perhaps help to spread some Christmas cheer to others and donate even a small contribution.
A little goes a long way in making someone feel that they’re not alone.
Being prepared for winter in rural counties such as Suffolk also means thinking about others.
We already have a great sense of community here in Suffolk and much to be proud of with some of our local volunteering initiatives and partnerships, but, as the colder weather is upon us, it’s more important than ever to look out for those who may be vulnerable and less able to manage alone.
Staying warm and healthy at home is vitally important for those who are elderly or may have an underlying health condition.
Simple steps, such as keeping windows closed, drawing curtains at dusk and keeping internal doors closed, can all help to retain heat and prevent the cold air from creeping in.
For those who may be struggling with energy bills, Suffolk’s Warm Homes Healthy People initiative can help vulnerable people and families to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat.
Subject to eligibility, the service can potentially help with fuel payments paid directly to your heating supplier, or a loan service for electric heaters and an assessment for financial assistance towards the cost of repairs or replacements if your boiler or heater stops working.
An independent surveyor may be able to visit your home to discuss energy efficiency improvements that could make a real difference to your heating bills, whether you own or privately rent your property.
The scheme may also be able to access grants to help pay for insulation and basic draught proofing.