This article is being written as the UK is in the grip of the worst winter weather for many years. There was initial concern that the weather forecasters might have got it wrong, but the system of issuing weather alerts seems to have worked well on this occasion.
There are plenty of people to thank for working through the worst of the weather: to keep transport links open wherever possible, to make sure that our NHS continues to be able to look after patients, to ensure that our schools are safe and warm for pupils, to distribute goods to supermarkets and shops, or to secure our supplies of electricity, gas and water. The list is a long one, but everyone who keeps things going in the face of the pressure imposed by the harsh weather deserves our thanks.
Volunteers have also been hard at work and that includes everyone who has called in on vulnerable neighbours, particularly older people who can’t get out to collect a prescription, or some milk or bread.
Throughout the year there are people who help those who are homeless; my Parliamentary colleague, Adam Afriyie MP, has spoken about the work of the Windsor Homeless Project charity, while there are many more charities which distribute help to those who are sleeping rough. There are often volunteers collecting warm coats, sweaters and duvets in the summer, which may seem counter-intuitive, but demonstrates the thought and planning which goes on across the months. In such extremes of cold, councils can use powers to open emergency shelters.
There are also the emergency planners from all the services and agencies who get together so they can swing smoothly into action whenever, wherever or whatever the circumstances dictate. Their forethought helps us all.
This article first appeared in the Maidenhead and Burnham Advertiser on 9th March 2017.