Why South Tyneside deserves a Christmas to remember
December has arrived and 2020 is thankfully coming to an end.
We have Christmas to look forward to (once we all work out who we can spend it with) and there is plenty of hope for 2021 with vaccinations being prepped as I write this.
It's important we celebrate this month despite the ongoing pandemic pressures.
We could all do with a break from the mental load this year has dropped on us.
Yes, we must follow the rules and regulations, but that won't stop us from sharing socially-distanced turkey with a loved one or telling awful cracker jokes over Zoom.
That's not to downplay the seriousness of events.
Today, we reveal the scale of the challenges our communities face with some hard-to-swallow stats on unemployment and mental health. Behind each number is a family hit hard by this crisis.
With all that in mind, it may feel that Christmas has come at a bad time, that the Covid Grinch has stolen our season of joy.
Yet it's in our power to make this a memorable Christmas for all of the right reasons.
Why not pick up the phone to someone who lives alone and ask them if they're okay or if they need a hand with anything, or send a card to that friend you haven't been able to see for months with a heartfelt message.
Do put up those amazing lights on the outside of your house and wave to those who marvel at them. We'd love to hear about these special moments and to share them with all of our readers - put together they can be incredibly powerful.
To help, we have created a free Christmas card that you can share digitally or print off at home to put it in the post. It will be on our website for you to download for the next few weeks.
If you can remember as far back as the start of lockdown in March (feels like years, I know) we told you how we would be there for you throughout the pandemic and beyond, as we have always been.
To keep our end of the deal, here's just a selection of what you can expect from us over the coming weeks:
*Sharing your Christmas fun, from Santa Paws to amazing decorations
*Advice and guidance on who to contact for financial and health advice
*Small steps to help with your mental well-being through this winter
*Cheaper alternative gifts and food this Christmas
*Daily advent messages and images on our Facebook page
*Regular updates on the guidelines and how to stay safe
*Your views on Tier 3 and how it is impacting Christmas
Do stay safe this December, check in on those who may need extra support this year and let yourself have some fun.
We'll be here to help.