There are just a few days to Christmas and another week until we turn the page on 2023 and look forward to 2024.
Internationally, 2023 has been marked by traumatic wars overseas as Russia's aggression against Ukraine has continued and as we have seen terrible violence in Israel and Gaza in the past few months. Although peace in both conflicts currently looks difficult to achieve, we must all hope that there is a resolution in both cases and an end to the violence.
In the case of Israel and Gaza, while there was a brief cease-fire a couple of weeks ago, there is currently no willingness on either side to stop. The world must maintain the pressure for a sustainable cease-fire, allowing humanitarian aid through and paving the way for a feeling of lasting peace in the Middle East. A lasting peace can only be achieved when there is a two-state solution. That requires the rest of the world to recognise the state of Palestine and for Palestinian groups and Arab neighbours to recognise Israel. The lack of trust on all sides over the decades has made this one of the most intractable problems.
Closer to home, Christmas is a moment when we all find time for families. Many of us will spend time with our parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins. Whatever other challenges people might have in life, Christmas is when we remember that family and loved ones is what matters most. Christmas can also be a difficult time for those who have suffered loss through bereavement or who experience loneliness and isolation. The contrast between the Christmas others seem to be having and that of those who find themselves alone or feeling a hole in their life makes it all the more difficult. There are some amazing charities that step in to help bring people in our communities together so they need not face Christmas alone. These include a lot of daycare centres for the elderly as well as some church groups. Volunteer Cornwall has a guide online that shows some of the great projects helping others this Christmas.
Cornwall has a larger elderly population than most other parts of the country and because we also have rural communities, the problems of loneliness and isolation can be greater. As well as local charities delivering for our communities we also have some amazing national charities that are based in Cornwall. The Cinnamon Trust in Hayle is one such charity. Founded by Avril Jarvis in 1985, the charity now has a national network of around 18,000 volunteers. For many elderly people living alone, their pets can provide incredibly important companionship. As they get older or suffer from illness and lack of mobility, it can be difficult for them to take their dog for a walk. The Cinnamon Trust pairs volunteers with elderly people to visit them on a daily basis and take their dog for a walk. As well as making sure the pet gets exercise, it means the elderly person gets regular daily social contact with a volunteer. They form a bond and make conversation based around the pet. It also means they have someone checking in on them regularly. The charity also rehomes and fosters pets when their owner passes away. Often the volunteer will build a relationship with the dog and will sometimes act as a foster carer until they can be rehomed. It is a wonderful local charity with a huge national reach and in such an important area.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.