In last year’s Christmas message, I drew some strength from the first verse of the popular Carol ‘O Holy Night’. It was all about how we can draw comfort from the promise that a ‘Weary World Rejoices’ at the coming of the Christ child.  It was certainly the back end of a very tiring and anxious 18 months. At Christmas 2021 We were weary – individually and as an organisation.

Without even a moment to catch our breath, along comes the Cost-of-Living crisis and rocketing bills for food and fuel. With every new crisis, it is the people who are already vulnerable who are hit first and hardest.   People who would previously have been ok have been dragged into difficulty. Inequality between those at the top and those at the bottom has grown. What we face in 2023 is uncertain but the signs are worrying. and those in the squeezed middle are just that- feeling squeezed and it is stressful.

Some psychologists have called this a permanent sense of trauma, in which crisis upon crisis, has been upon us since early 2020.

Just like the rest of you 2022 has been a remarkable year for Compassion Acts…

Who would have thought that by the middle of the year we would have had to set up a Ukraine Welcome Centre and that by the autumn we would be running Warm Spaces?  Both of these emergencies have impacted us this year- but who else other than us with all your goodwill and prayers, could have jumped to action? It is because of our wonderful financial and food donors that we can be so flexible and agile to step up to help where it’s needed. Thank You!

On a busy day now at the Victoria Centre, it can feel overwhelming with the phone calls and the needs expressed ranging from domestic violence to broken boilers.  Foodbank demand has gone up 30%. After a period of relative calm during the Pandemic when creditors gave leeway, debts are being chased and our advisers are busy helping.  We now have double the number of people in our Food pantries than at the start of the year.

Scanning down the lyrics of the carol again I was stopped in my tracks and reminded again of the radicalism rather than cosiness of the authentic Christmas message.  “All Oppression shall Cease!”  What a rallying cry!  Although that’s not our mission statement, we are more measured …. ‘Reducing poverty and increasing social wellbeing’ – we are however absolutely rooted in that same faith tradition that does justice, that is us as wounded fallible humans helping other humans.

Our small staff team and volunteers are the best people – not because they are superheroes or saints – but because they are simply people helping other people. Sharing the load if you like. Being human together on the often very difficult journey of life.  Each of us doing our bit means that one day, in His name, all oppression shall cease.  Happy Christmas to all of you, however you celebrate. I myself am inspired by Jesus’ birth but I know we have many volunteers of all faiths and none- that is our strength in diversity -so however you celebrate, have the best time possible.

Happy Christmas to all our supporters, volunteers, and service-users.

Richard Owens, Chief Executive

Truly He taught us to love one another.

His law is Love and His gospel is Peace.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,

And in his name, all oppression shall cease,

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we.

Let all within us praise his Holy name!