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Mayor slammed for axing free Christmas hampers for vulnerable pensioners

PUBLISHED: 16:00 07 December 2018

Cllr Ken Clark and former Newham mayor, Sir Robin Wales, deliver a hamper. Picture: Andrew Baker

Cllr Ken Clark and former Newham mayor, Sir Robin Wales, deliver a hamper. Picture: Andrew Baker

Andrew Baker

A councillor has criticised the mayor for scrapping Christmas hamper deliveries for "vulnerable" pensioners.

Rokhsana Fiaz~5Rokhsana Fiaz~5

Manor Park’s Cllr Ken Clark addressing older people in a letter to the Recorder said they were not forgotten after it emerged Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, made changes to the annual scheme for over 70s living alone on low incomes.

Instead they would be invited to one of eight Christmas lunches.

The former deputy mayor wrote: “This is great for elders who are mobile enough, but for those unable to leave the house there is no hamper this year.”

The hamper project had run for four years under Sir Robin Wales’s former administration.

Cllr Ken Clark and former Newham mayor, Sir Robin Wales, deliver a hamper. Picture: Andrew BakerCllr Ken Clark and former Newham mayor, Sir Robin Wales, deliver a hamper. Picture: Andrew Baker

Besides a basket of festive goodies, pensioners received a free Active Newham leisure voucher.

It was backed by businesses including Aspers, London City Airport, M&S and Tesco with volunteers making the deliveries.

Cllr Clark wrote: “You didn’t just hand over a box, you made conversation and discreetly checked if the resident might need an extra visit from our overstretched adult services.

“It was always a huge challenge to get the hampers delivered by Christmas Day but together as one amazing community you did it. I am humbled and proud to have worked with such a dedicated group of people.”

Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: R. FIAZNewham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz. Picture: R. FIAZ

Ms Fiaz said: “Christmas is a time to connect with friends, family and neighbours but for some of our oldest and most vulnerable, it’s a time of extreme loneliness and isolation.

“At Christmas we all look forward to events which give us something to plan and dress up for, where we can share a laugh and chat, make new friends and create new memories.

“That’s why we’ve changed our offer from a one off delivery of basic groceries, to a Christmas event. It’s about feeling included in the Newham family.”

She added the council was working on organising transport for people with mobility issues.

“It’s often said ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I want our community to take that approach to our elders. It is the least they deserve,” Ms Fiaz said.

In a social care emergency over Christmas contact the council on 020 8430 2000.

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