This Christmas will be different for all of us, and for many it will be a challenging time.
I want to wish everyone the very best this Christmas and reassure them that I am on hand to support you and your loved ones with any issues I can help you with. If you have queries around coronavirus, vaccinations, housing, health or any other issue, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me over the coming days and weeks.
Whilst it is disappointing to see our plans for Christmas have to change, the virus is continuing to spread and put our loved ones at risk. We are not alone with changes being made to our plans, with London and Scotland bringing in tighter measures, and countries across Europe doing the same. It is vitally important that we continue to remember what we “should do” and not what we “can do” in order to suppress the virus as much as possible.
Earlier this week, the First Minister announced that the Welsh Government would be investing in Free School Meals, making them available every week, including school holidays, until Easter 2022. This builds on our record with Free School Meals here in Wales, spending the most generous amount per week at £19.50, and being the first in the UK to guarantee meals during the pandemic and extending the entitlement to school holidays. Please, check to see if your children are eligible to receive this support.
There is further financial support available to support individuals and families who are experiencing difficulties. I have personally worked within Government to extend access to the Discretionary Assistance Fund. An extra £11 million was made available through the Fund back in May and in August, I confirmed that families who needed the assistance, would be able to make up to five claims to the Fund in a 12 month period, until the end of March 2021.
If you are struggling, then please get in touch with me on 01352 762102 or at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales and I will do my best to signpost you to the available support.
This year as well as my usual Christmas Card competition and supporting the local foodbank, I wanted to do play my own part to make Christmas that little bit nicer and brighter for families across the area by organising a Christmas Hamper appeal. Working largely with local primary schools to identify families, this week I have put together and delivered 50 hampers made up of all you need to enjoy a Christmas dinner plus a few treats thrown in too.
This was only possible due to the generosity of local businesses and volunteers who gave up their time to help. Thanks to Polyroof in Flint for paying for the meat and vegetables, to Warwick Chemicals for their generous donation, and to Smurfitt Kappa for providing the boxes for the hampers. Another huge thank you to Jones Price in Mold who supplied the fresh vegetables and cheeses, and Danny’s Family Butchers in Holywell who supplied the meat. I also want to thank individuals and organisations – including Tarmac – who have donated items.
Sending best wishes once again to all Leader readers for a very Merry Christmas.