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Rosanne Kirk

Rosanne Kirk

Councillor Rosanne Kirk is the Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion on City of Lincoln Council

As human beings, we sometimes forget the power of our own words. Yet it is words, and the power of speech that has seen us evolve and become the most dominant animal on Earth.

It is words that have the power to hurt, the power to heal and the power to bring about change. In short, words are the most powerful force we have.

Along with the words we speak, we have the mind to choose our words carefully. To analyse the impact that our words may have. We can stop to think “Is what I’m saying going to have a positive effect?” or “How will this person feel if I say this?”

Social media has established itself as a primary source of contact for many people and there appears to be a need to always be saying something. But is the same level of forethought being applied? Are we still choosing our words carefully if we feel we have to be constantly contributing to an ocean of online chatter?

I will be celebrating World Hello Day next week. A day where we celebrate bringing people together from all over the world to start a conversation. If we have dialogue, we can celebrate our differences and compare our similarities. Ultimately, words lead us to the conclusion that we’re not that different after all.

Hello is also one of the most universal words in our language and there is nobody it doesn’t apply to. Whether you’re saying it to someone you’ve never met, or saying it to your closest friend, the word and the meaning behind the word remains the same. Hello doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor or old and young – it applies to everyone.

The word Hello brings us together, which is a more important sentiment now than it ever has been. Where words are being used to divide communities, words can also be used to bring them together.

If words are used to create fear, then they can just as easily create hope. If we think about how we communicate with others, and about how our words can make a difference then we will see a positive change in society.

World Hello Day takes place this year on Wednesday, November 21. On that day, think about the power of hello, and what a positive difference it can make. Say hello to someone new and start the conversation!

Councillor Rosanne Kirk is the Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion on City of Lincoln Council

Christmas is upon us again, and people’s thoughts turn to presents, food and family. It’s also a great time for reflection, and to think about others less fortunate than ourselves.

When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, he probably wouldn’t have realised that the messages about poverty, starvation and class inequality would still resonate so powerfully in the 21st Century;

A report issued by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation earlier this month highlighted some shocking rises in poverty, particularly amongst children and the elderly. Nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are in poverty than five years ago, and one in five people in the UK can now be classed as living in poverty.

Can you imagine what Christmas will be like for those children? What do they have to look forward to on Christmas day if their family can’t afford presents, or even a decent meal?

In Lincoln we are not immune to these national effects, and we are aware of areas of deprivation within the city.

We have had an Anti-Poverty Strategy in place for several years, bringing partner organisations together to discuss ways to tackle poverty. Just this week, a small group of officers from the council and the voluntary sector met to discuss how we can best help those who are in crisis.

We have many people coming to City Hall for food vouchers, but this is usually part of a much bigger problem. If you dig a bit deeper, these people usually have more needs.

It shouldn’t have to be this way, but sadly it’s a fact of modern life that there are those who live below the breadline. A child should be free to choose something to play with, and to enjoy themselves, not to live in the fear of where the next meal is coming from.

We all need to do our bit to help tackle poverty in the UK, and I’m looking forward to a new year as part of a council that has made reducing inequalities one of its priorities.

We were part of setting up the Anti-Poverty Action Plan in 2014 and have worked tirelessly since then to try and reduce inequality in Lincoln. We’ve worked with other district councils on the Energy Switch Scheme to try and get people to save on their energy costs.

We’ve also worked on the Living Wage in Lincoln, trying to get as many businesses in the city to pay the living wage as possible. One of our main projects this year has been to help support the Food Banks and Community Larders in Lincoln. Nobody should be going hungry when there is so much to go around.

So when you are opening your presents on Christmas Day, or eating Christmas dinner with your family, spare a thought for those who aren’t so lucky. With a New Year just around the corner, could you make one of your resolutions to help fight poverty?

I know that my main resolution for 2018 will be to work with other partners in the city to do everything we can to reduce inequality in Lincoln.

Councillor Rosanne Kirk is the Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion on City of Lincoln Council

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