2006 – an opportunity to make a difference

Jo Swinson MP’s New Year Message


2005 was a year which saw great suffering. The aftermath of the tsunami. Hurricane Katrina. The earthquake in Pakistan. The London bombings. Yet the international response to the devastation in south-east Asia a year ago showed perhaps that there is hope for humanity, that we are able to see the bigger picture and work together on a global scale. Individuals were generous, and governments also found funds to contribute.

2005 was also the year of Make Poverty History. While its aims are not fully achieved, huge steps forward have been taken. When it comes to tackling world poverty, through trade, aid and debt relief, it is vital for nations to work together. And progress on environmental problems and climate change also requires international agreements.

While the scale of these problems can be daunting, and global solutions are required, it is important to remember that individuals can make a difference. Sorting out rubbish for doorstep recycling, making a commitment to reduce your personal energy use by 20% (see www.est.org.uk for tips) and buying fairly traded tea and coffee are just some of the ways that individuals can help to combat climate change or make poverty history. Closer to home, it’s groups of committed individuals who are working hard to build a skatepark for young people in Kirkintilloch, provide new play equipment in Torrance, and create a Gala Week in Bishopbriggs.

2006 will bring new challenges, but it will also bring new opportunities for people to make a difference.

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