Ruth’s Irvine Herald message, 25 December 2018

I would like to wish everyone a very wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This holiday season will be a time for families and friends to get together, and to enjoy a bit of time off work and school. As Christmas approaches, however, many of us may also be experiencing hidden hardships which cannot be glossed over with a little tinsel and turkey.

Whilst this year has seen many difficult issues, from Universal Credit to the ongoing nightmare that is Brexit, it remains truly heart-warming to see so many people within my constituency willing to lend a helping hand.

People like the Hendry family at Townhead Café in Stevenston, who will provide a free Christmas dinner for any vulnerable, elderly or lonely people in the Three Towns and Kilwinning, and who are willing to provide transport and a wee gift for everyone who goes along. (Call 01294 286497 to book a place).

In our local SNP hub in Irvine a huge collection of food and toys was gathered at the start of December for North Ayrshire Foodbank, whilst many supermarkets continue to take donations also. If you wish to help, a ‘reverse advent calendar’ offers daily suggestions on the Foodbank’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NorthAyrshireFoodbank.

It is not always easy to seek help, but if you are experiencing difficulties over the festive period there are many groups willing to assist, including Citizens Advice (0808 800 9060), Shelter (0808 800 4444), Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) and the Samaritans (116 123).

2019 promises to be yet another busy year across the constituency and nationally, and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Wherever you will be, and whoever you are with, I truly hope you have a peaceful and joyful break – and I’ll see you on the other side!