Owen Temple & Margaret Nealis

Liberal Democrat campaigners for Consett North Learn more

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Christmas Cheer

by Owen Temple on 20 December, 2013

I’m a bit of a crazy mixed up kid. Bah Humbug some days and soft as clarts on others.

A big thankyou therefore to young people in Consett for putting me into the Christmas spirit several times just recently.

A striking example was the “end of course” presentation by Team 28 on the Princes Trust at Consett YMCA. They had just completed their 12 week course, and were buzzing with it and what they had achieved.

Talking to some of the course members I was knocked out by what two of them said to me. “This course has saved lots of people,” was the comment of one of them. I had to double check – had she actually said that? She had, and went on to tell me a little of her story – homeless and hopeless she had found purpose and self-esteem on the course many years ago. Eight years later she had gone through it again as part of team 28, and the smiling and self-assured young woman I met was a very good advertisement for a course which offers itself with these words, “If you’re unemployed, unexcited and unsure of your future, we have something to get you going.”

The other powerful message after that presentation was from Sean Zima (he gave me permission to use his name) who had gone on the course, looking to raise his prospects and also to put himself in a position where he would be able to have a tattoo lasered off his neck in order to make himself eligible for his ambition – to join the Marines. Their rules exclude anyone with a visible tattoo. His enthusiastic participation in the course has already achieved the first goal (he told me it was £45 per square inch for tattoo removal) and I’m convinced the course can only have helped with the bigger ambition.

I came away encouraged and heartened for the Christmas season, which was exactly the same sensation I got from the Consett Junior School Carol Service at Christchurch. The children were much younger than the Princes Trust team, much shinier faced and Christmas-cardy, but they had the same buzz as they sang some of the newer carols and looked out for and waved to parents, grandparents and friends.

Before both of these I had also had a great afternoon with my friends at the Consett Churches Detached Youth Project who had cooked and served lunch to a party of senior citizens. The banter had been great fun, and the self assured young bingo caller had entertained us all. Having got the idea of rhyme in his calling we particularly enjoyed “I need a wee, twenty three”. The older folk must have enjoyed it, as they organised a whip round for the project and its young people.

There really is no room for Bah Humbug when there’s so much great stuff going on around you.

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