Christmas is a time to reach out to others

There are many reasons why the festive season can be a trying and emotional time for some.
Perhaps it will be a first Christmas without a loved family member or maybe as a result of getting older a person’s social circle has shrunk or maybe even disappeared.
If you are concerned about someone who may be lonely over Christmas, take a look at the council’s adult social care webpages
It has information on local organisations that offer opportunities for residents to get out and about and meet people. There are suggestions for getting help with transport for those who find it difficult to get around. And it also suggests ways in which someone can stay in touch with others even if they struggle to leave their house.
The web pages can also point people in the direction of specialist organisations that can offer emotional support. Some, like the Samaritans, are nationally well known and there are others which are locally focused.
Right across our great city, churches and community groups will also be doing their bit to reach out to the lonely.
This includes:

  • FoodCycle Portsmouth and Portsmouth Cathedral are jointly hosting a lunch for up to 60 people on Christmas Day. Cathedral volunteers will provide transport and one of the local churches, St Simon’s, is lending its minibus. The meal is for people who are alone on Christmas Day, or who might otherwise not get a Christmas meal. If you would like to attend, or book a place on behalf of someone, please phone Portsmouth Cathedral on 023 9282 3300 or email
  • John Pounds Church in Old Portsmouth will aim to host 30 alone or isolated people living in PO1 for a four-course meal – the lunch is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted. To book call the church office on 023 9282 1101 and leave your name, postcode, contact telephone number and state if you are a vegetarian
  • The Drayton Centre will host a free lunch (with a refundable £10 deposit) for those in the Drayton/Farlington area. Transport can be provided free of charge if required. Please contact Olwen Brewster on 02392 382002.
  • St John’s Cathedral in Bishop Crispian Way is hosting a Christmas day meal – and transport may be provided. Email for more information.

All year round voluntary groups aim to reduce social isolation in our community for older people, those who live alone, those who are at risk or find themselves homeless.
If we all make the effort to try and help someone in need this festive season, whether it’s by volunteering or donating to those who work with people who need support we will probably enjoy our Christmas that little bit more.
Finally I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Night shelter for rough sleepers welcomed

News that the Society of St James are providing a safe space for people who are homeless to rest during the cold winter nights is welcomed by Portsmouth Labour.
Working in unison with the Portsmouth City Council, the Society of St James (SSJ) are providing beds for 28 rough sleepers as part of a broader Christmas Appeal to tackle homelessness in the city.
The service also hopes to create a cumulative benefit for recipients, as users of the SSJ service will be encouraged to engage with other services for the homeless in the city, in an effort to more permanently secure the health and wellbeing of these people.
The service is aiming to provide rounded care, meaning a hot shower, access to TV and breakfast will also be available to residents.
It is hoped that the service can empower its users to escape the homelessness trap by supporting people with their recovery.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader said:
“We believe no one should ever have to sleep rough in our city but sadly we know from experience that this occurs all too often.
During the harsh winter months, it is simply too cold and too dangerous for some of our most vulnerable people with complex needs.
The night shelter is providing a safe, warm and welcoming space for those who are forced to sleep rough in Portsmouth. I thank the SSJ for their hard work in providing this valuable local service”.
For information as to how you can refer someone to the centre visit

Let’s invest closer to home

The city council has bought five more properties in the last few weeks in a deal worth more than £55m.
This aims to bolster its commercial empire by spending £56.5m on business parks in Redditch, Lutterworth, Bilston, Dewsbury and Leeds.
It brings the total spent by the city council on property to £108.3m.
Last week in Full Council the Labour Group’s response to the Administration’s budget called for a “better deal” for the city to create new jobs and stimulate the local economy.
Cllr Yahiya Chowdhury speaking in support of the Labour budget amendment said the city’s investment strategy needed to more directly benefit Portsmouth.
The deal comes after The News revealed the city council used £739,982.09 from its ‘property investment fund’ – all of which has been borrowed from the banks – to pay firms which billed for their time helping the council buy property it could make money on.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“Portsmouth is a great place for businesses to create jobs and to invest. We urge the city council to practice what it preaches, and start making its own investments closer to home. We are sure that it won’t be disappointed. 
 Portsmouth Labour backs our great city. We want to see the council’s administration to do the same”.

Let’s work together to tackle social isolation

More than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. 
And despite what some people think, loneliness is not a normal part of ageing. It not only makes life miserable, it can have a serious impact on physical and mental health too.
Unless we act together, our rapidly ageing population in Portsmouth means we’ll see ever greater numbers of lonely older people and, because social isolation undermines resilience, this also means more pressure on our already stretched NHS and social care services in the city.
Older people’s loneliness really matters. I believe there is more the council and other public agencies can do to prevent and tackle it.
But it can’t just be fixed by the public sector alone – we all have a role to play: by being friendly to the older people around us; making the effort to stay in touch with older relatives; or by actively supporting local voluntary groups that help older people to make new friends.
I want to draw attention to this big issue for older people, mobilising others to help prevent and alleviate it, and encouraging us all to do more.
So this Christmas please spare a thought for those socially isolated, and let’s do something about it together.

Portsmouth charities praised

Portsmouth’s Labour Leader has used the first ever nationally organised ‘Local Charities Day’ to recognise the hard work and contribution the voluntary and community sector plays in the life of the city.
Local Charities Day taking place on Friday 16 December 2016 aims to put small, local charities and community groups into the spotlight, helping them thrive and demonstrate the great work they do in their areas.
In celebration of the day Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour Group Leader on Portsmouth City Council said:
“Pompey should be proud about the energy, commitment, expertise and the benefits local charities bring to our communities.
There are thousands of volunteers and hundreds of local groups and charities across our city doing their bit to make life better for hard working families and the vulnerable in our communities. 
I thank them for everything they do”.
Praise for the city’s charities follows Labour’s budget response at Full Council on Tuesday, when councillors had their say on Tory proposals to take £9m out of council budgets.
Cllr Morgan tabled investment plans to support charities at a time of crisis for local social care services. He said in response to these proposals:
“Voluntary organisations have a crucial role to play in finding solutions to local challenges.
They can undertake preventative work, meet local needs, address demands and are the glue that binds our communities together.
And not only do they need our support now more than ever, we need theirs”.
Action Portsmouth, a charity which supports other charities to flourish, has produced an online resource which helps identify groups and support available to local people. 
Visit: to find out more.

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