It's that time of year again and I would like to take this opportunity to wish every family, community and neighbourhood in Dagenham, Rainham, South Hornchurch and Elm Park a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.
I know that for many in the constituency, 2013 was a year of hard times. With government cuts introduced in April, and the cost of living rising above wages my office has been working to make sure people don't fall through the cracks, helping as many as we can.
However amidst cuts there has also been much positive investment in the area, with local unemployment at a three year low, and the numbers of young people in work rising month after month. There is still a lot of work to be done though and the focus for 2014 will be to boost regeneration and secure more investment for the Sanofi Aventis site in Dagenham East. In light of the GLA's recent refusal of funding for the science and technological facility in Dagenham, one of my jobs in the new year will be working with the council to find a positive route forward.
The major theme for me this year has been community; with local residents coming together in support of campaigns and projects across the constituency, there is a clear revival of community spirit. This year my volunteer project has successfully connected and empowered over 1800 residents with new ways to get involved to improve their neighbourhoods.
I am proud to be the MP for such a diverse and interconnected area, and it is encouraging to see the community taking a more hands on approach locally than ever before. I think this quote from Nelson Mandela, the inspirational and visionary leader who sadly past away recently is a fitting summary of the goal we are working towards;
"A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."
My office will be closed from December 20th till January 3rd. If residents are in need of urgent support please see the details below:
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council out of hours: 020 8215 3024
London Borough of Havering out of hours: 01708 433999
Rainham Food Bank: 01708 521728
Barking or Chadwell Heath Food Bank: 07507 648948
Dagenham Food Bank: 020 8595 0122