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We must support the most vulnerable

Column by Lee Steptoe, Labour councillor on South Kesteven District Council

As we enter a unique festive season, which will be strange for all, it is time to consider those that are far less fortunate than we are; the essence of the Christmas message for those of faith and non-believers alike.

I visited St John’s Church recently which is at the heart of the GRACE project in town, co-ordinated by the fantastic Jayne Robb, and was so pleased to see some of the wonderful volunteers get gift vouchers from local companies in last week’s Journal.

Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)
Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)

The same edition also highlighted celebrity Rebekah Vardy’s support of our local homeless charity, Grantham Passage.

Both of those organisations do fantastic work with the most vulnerable in our society, those that are slipping through the cracks in a massively stretched state support system.

Millions of us are just a few pay days away from hardship and these organisations are doing selfless work, thanks to generous donations from the caring public.

At St John’s I saw homeless men, who had been sleeping in a local park, being given a hot drink and food. Clothes are available for those that need them, along with furniture and toys for children, who should never suffer at any time of year in what is still the sixth richest country on the planet.

What GRACE most needs is a van to deliver to those without transport. I have requested that SKDC look at the possibility of lending one of its many vehicles.

I also hope that SKDC learns from the shameful case of the Riverside flats, whose residents were left without adequate heating and hot water for over three years, as confirmed by the independent HR report, well highlighted by the Journal early last month, along with failed fire standards. This affected many elderly and other vulnerable residents and, quite frankly, smacks of quite shameful negligence.

Apologies are not enough from either elected Tory councillors or officers. We’ve heard it all before!

Last week’s council meeting was so chaotic due to the wholly inadequate Skype system that we ran out of time to discuss this report and another meeting has to be arranged. More council taxpayers’ money wasted.

It’s time for a generous compensation package to be paid that includes covering distress and inconvenience.

Let’s all look out for those who need help this Christmas and beyond, and I wish all Journal readers a Merry Christmas and much improved 2021.

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