In my last column I highlighted the vital importance of the Scottish Government giving East Lothian and other local authorities fair funding for the year ahead. In fact, independent sources have said last week’s Budget settlement was equal to a 4.9 per cent real terms decrease in funding. This leaves local authorities across Scotland with significant funding black holes and councillors with really difficult decisions to make on local services.

I was pleased to read more positive news on the front page of last week’s Courier, with such a high level of support for local good causes in the run-up to the festive period. The fact that, despite rising living costs and squeezed personal finances, so many people have continued to be so generous speaks volumes about the community-mindedness of people across East Lothian.

This generosity shone through again when I joined other volunteers in Haddington recently for East Lothian Foodbank’s winter food collection. Many shoppers stopped to chat and find out more about the collection and the foodbank’s lifeline work. I still believe it is unacceptable that so many people are having to access foodbanks and similar services. However, while the need remains I will continue to support them and the assistance they provide.

It has also been heartening to see how many local schools have been involved in supporting fundraising efforts for good causes. Our young people have experienced a really tough few years, but many are still stepping up to help their communities.

During a recent parliamentary debate on the #IWill youth volunteering movement, I paid tribute to young people who volunteer in communities here in East Lothian and across Scotland. Their support for local charities and community groups demonstrates how much young people here care about and contribute to their communities.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish all Courier readers a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.