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Community figures share their Xmas messages for The Voice

PICTURED: Sonia Winifred and Reverend Rose-Hudson Wilkins

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons: 'We must work together'

I recall how excited I used to be as a child approaching Christmas in Jamaica. What I remember was the preparation. The merriment of the men and women all around and it would seem that no one was left out – we shared what we had with one another. The pot roasted pork, curried goat, chicken, rice and gungo peas. And yes, the sorrel.

Thousands of miles away from Jamaica, and as we approach Christmas, I suspect that for many of us, our thoughts might well be on the number of young people who have had their lives ended due to knife crime.

The increase of this tragedy in our midst is still crying out for us to be our brother’s keeper. We cannot wash our hands and blame the police, the government or some other outside factor. This will only change when we as families work together with other agencies creating the change we want to see.

PRIVILEGE

My parents’ generation are remembered with much love at Christmas time. They are the ones who know how to bake that perfect rich black cake and without any recipe! I have had the privilege to meet a number of them who have been affected by the “Windrush Scandal”.

Listening to their stories, I am reminded that we are a people who never give up.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Chelsea Flower Show this year and the Windrush garden entry won Gold! That’s who we really are – a people who goes for gold.
Have a blessed Christmas!

Councillor Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, Lambeth Council: 'Open your door to a neighbour in their time of need over Christmas’

As we approach Christmas and New Year, I look back on some of the key events of 2018. The Windrush scandal is at the forefront of my thinking. Many of the passengers who made their way to this country on the historic Empire Windrush would nd their way to Lambeth, settling in Brixton.

One reason they were attracted to Brixton was because of Gus Leslie, a Jamaican landlord with rooms to let in the streets around Coldharbour Lane. This area in Brixton quickly became the nucleus of the Jamaican community in London, and by the 1960s two streets, in particular Somerleyton Road and Geneva Road, had the highest levels of West Indian home ownership in the UK.

This government’s ‘Hostile Environment Policy’, sought to destroy the lives of these black British citizens. Seventy years on they face the same hostility and racism – held in immigration camps, deported back to the Caribbean and denied basic human rights. We must ensure that this government is held to account.

TOGETHER

This year also, stabbings in the capital rose by 16 per cent as knife crime surged across our streets. To date we have lost far too many of our young people to senseless knife crime. As I look towards 2019, I am hoping for a better future for our young people, with a growing sense of family unity, of self-worth not self- loathing. Christmas is a lonely time of the year for many people, so if you know your neighbour is alone this Christmas open your door to them, do not ignore them. This is not who we are, our culture defines us.

I wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas. Let us approach the challenges of the new year, 2019 together as one.

Mark Sturge, Head of Christian Aid London: ‘Each of us needs to be resolute’

Last Sunday, I was decorating our Christmas tree when I received some devastating news from a family friend. Immediately, I lost the will to continue and mused over the fact that ‘I am tired of receiving bad news!’ Throughout 2018, we had to reconcile several bad news stories with the good.

Parents and families of predominantly young black boys received the bad news that their child will not be returning home. Knife and gun crimes in London reached epidemic proportions. We also heard the bad news of how the Windrush Generation were treated. And as I write this Nadia Murad the Yazidi survivor and Congolese, Dr Denis Mukwege, have received Nobel Peace Prizes for their work in supporting women, for whom sex and rape are used as weapons of war.

Listening to their stories beggars belief at the malice, cruelty and lack of human decency. I applaud their nobility and de ance and join the chorus for justice. The bad news is the medical and physiological traumas, stigma and shame they will carry for years to come.

Each of us needs to be resolute, standing alongside the seekers of justice. Even then we cannot do this by ourselves. Emmanuel, God with us, is the Christ of Christmas. Christ’s coming invites us to hope, trust and love. Even in the midst of pain. Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.

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