AS WE APPROACH the festive period the shops are getting busier as people look forward to Christmas. We can expect to see an increase in the number of shoppers over the coming weeks as shops open late. Whilst the shopping spree can be exciting there is another side to the Christmas shopping chaos that largely goes unnoticed. I am talking about the abuse that shop workers suffer.

Last month I was pleased to show my support for USDAW’s (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) Freedom from Fear Campaign and Respect for Shopworkers Week. The aim is to make sure that ‘Abuse is not part of the job’ is heard loud and clear during the busy Christmas shopping period. USDAW’s Freedom from Fear Survey 2016 revealed that a half of all shop workers were verbally abused over the past year, with 29 per cent being threatened with violence and eight per cent suffering physical assaults. A third of those suffering physical violence did not report the incident to their employer. The interim results of this year’s survey indicates significant increases on last year’s survey with abuse and assaults up by 25 per cent and threats increased by 38 per cent

This situation is unacceptable. People who provide a service to the public deserve to be able to go about their jobs without the fear of abuse and violence. It is therefore incredibly important that, as part of this campaign we work together to encourage people to report any abuse or violence that they experience so that we can push employers to take real action against it. Over the coming weeks I will be visiting shops in Penarth to talk to workers about their experiences and to highlight this serious issue. I hope that people remember that shopworkers are there to serve us. They are doing their job for our benefit, let them do it in safety with our respect.

At Christmas our thoughts turn to those who are less well off than ourselves. We also remember the tremendous services and support that groups and organisations provide to those in need. I have previously visited my local Neighbourhood Food Collection at Tesco in Penarth to see and support the good work of the Vale Foodbank and the Trussell Trust. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008 the Trussell Trust was only giving three –day emergency food to 25,899 people across the UK. In 2016 the Trussell Trust provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies and support to people in crisis. Of these, over 430,000 went to children.

It is always heart-warming to see so many others thinking of those less fortunate than themselves and making donations to those in need. Gestures like this truly demonstrate our continuing capacity for togetherness, community and charity. In many supermarkets food items are collected year round, not just at Christmas. I would urge all those that are able, to make a donation. It really does make a difference.

More information can be found on the Vale Foodbank website www.