Last week I was one the volunteers who helped prepare the evening meals with Food Cycle Cambridge. This is a great charity that receives unsold food from shops and supermarkets to prepare regular meals for people across Cambridge.
I first volunteered in 2016, just before Christmas. Now that my children have left home I don’t have to worry so much about family obligations, and I’ve also become less happy with the excess consumption that is so common. I decided that over this period I will always try to give to the community, so rather than have an office Christmas dinner last year the office was closed and those who wished to volunteer joined me at Food Cycle.
This year we did the same.
The community kitchen isn’t big, but it was fine for the team of four plus our supervisor to prepare and cook two dishes for the main course and two desserts, all vegetarian dishes and the majority vegan. It was a challenge but fun and we were all proud of the dishes made.
My part in the evening was very small, but it has made a big impact on me. I was a cog in wheel that was turning to do good. There are many more wheels turning to improve the lives of others and every effort to assist is important.
If I’m elected to represent Trumpington then I’ll work hard to support great initiatives like this. We shouldn’t expect volunteers to replace services that should be properly funded, like libraries, but there are many areas of our lives where voluntary work can make a difference to people – and be rewarding for those taking part, as I’ve found myself.
There are many good things in the just-launched 2017 Cambridgeshire County Council Manifesto and you can read them all on the Labour group website.
However the one area I’m most excited about is the section on Environment and Climate Change, which I helped on. It’s a great statement of what Labour could do with a stronger voice on the County Council.
Environmental concerns and dealing with climate change are at the top of the Labour Party’s agenda, illustrated by our support for reduced car use and better public transport, energy efficiency throughout the county’s properties and a reduction in the county’s carbon footprint. We will pursue sustainable green policies throughout the County Council. We will pioneer plans to cut emissions from buses and taxis.
One-third of Cambridgeshire is below sea level and the County Council’s refusal to take the risk of climate change seriously threatens property and livelihoods across the county. Labour will support a comprehensive strategy for the management of flooding and draught conditions across the county. We believe in renewable energy and we will encourage organic practices throughout the County Council’s extensive farms estate.
A Labour County Council would:
Develop a climate change strategy which aims to make Cambridgeshire a zero-net carbon county by 2050. To lead the way, we would reduce emissions from our own estate and property portfolio and work with partner organisations across Cambridgeshire to cut carbon emissions. We would invest further in green energy using council income and applying for national grants to reduce the county’s carbon footprint.
Divest the County Council’s substantial pensions and investments fund from fossil fuels. This would make the County Council fossil fuel free and a model for other public sector as well as private sector organisations.
Work with residents, businesses and other organisations to reduce vehicle emissions across Cambridgeshire. We would work with coach, bus and taxi operators to seek funding for transformational reductions in diesel emissions to improve public health.
Provide high quality green infrastructure. We would use all opportunities offered by planning, the City Deal and other projects to achieve green public spaces. This includes planting more trees and ensuring that new developments provide the open space and recreational facilities that residents need.
Promote energy-saving schemes by building on the collective energy switching policy to use the collective power of Cambridgeshire residents to negotiate cheaper energy prices. We would improve promotion and advertising and create a private sector energy officer to improve information, publicity and uptake of energy and insulation schemes such as the Green Deal and the Energy Companies Obligation.
Develop a new food nutrition, production and security policy. This would develop the principles of the previous Labour government’s ‘Food 2030’ strategy which was abolished by the coalition government. Our policy would prioritise reducing the number of people in food poverty as well as those suffering from malnutrition and obesity due to changes in food processes and diets. It would also ensure that everyone in Cambridgeshire is ‘food literate’ in the same manner that local authorities are attempting to increase online literacy. We would provide guidance and best practice information for food producers. We would review the provision of school meals and ensure they are sustainably sourced with good educational initiatives for children.