During the festive season, it’s important to reflect on the year gone by and recall all that we have accomplished despite the hardships that have befallen so many.

The cost-of-living crisis has placed a heavy burden on too many households, who have had to contend with the rising cost of energy bills and general household essentials. It’s been an incredibly difficult year.

So many people will also undoubtedly feel far less festive than they would have hoped, as for reasons financial or otherwise they struggle to buy gifts, attend parties with friends and colleagues, and meet with family.

It is vital that we offer our support to those around us who may need a helping hand.

Alongside our own celebrations, we must reach out to those who may find this period difficult – even under normal circumstances.

It can be hard for those who feel alone or isolated to let others know how they feel, as well as those who maybe can’t afford to celebrate.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone working to keep our essential services running, including those in the emergency services, NHS, service industry and many more.

Their hard work and commitment will always deserve our respect and appreciation – as is the work of volunteers helping to support their communities and vulnerable people.

I hope you find joy over the festive period and that 2024 will be a great year for us all.