However, I am well aware, that not everyone is lucky enough to be in this position. As a council we are encouraging everyone to keep an eye out for anyone who might be alone or need some extra support. Just a friendly face can make a huge difference, but it's also about making sure that people are warm and safe. This is especially important at this time of year when the temperature drops.

It's important that people know what services are available to help in these circumstances and so I would especially like to draw attention to our free home energy visits. If you are aged over 60, on a low income, or are disabled then you may be eligible. The service provides you with energy advice; information about keeping warm and healthy in your own home; energy savings devices; and, information on how to save on your energy bills. If you know someone who would benefit from this, please encourage them to contact our Wellbeing team

I'm also well aware of those people who are concerned about loved ones when they can't be there. Our Chichester Careline service specialises in helping people to live alone safely and independently. Careline  operates 24 hours, every day of the year, so while most of us are tucking into our turkey or sound asleep, its staff will be busy supporting people across the district.

Christmas is also a time when we should be supporting our local businesses. Our Countdown to Christmas campaign was launched on 19 November to encourage people to shop locally, rediscover what is on the doorstep, and to provide important information and advice to our residents over the festive period.

As part of the campaign, we've teamed up with businesses across the district, the Chichester BID, Selsey Town Manager and our own Rural Towns Co-ordinator to launch a festive giveaway through our Facebook page . Businesses have donated thousands of pounds' worth of prizes that are being given away every week day.

The campaign helps to raise awareness of the wide range of businesses that are located within the district and draws attention to the festivities that are taking place in Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey. Within the first week, the campaign had been viewed over 135,000 times on our Facebook page alone. We've also provided key information about our services over the Christmas period on our website, within our Initiatives magazine and on our social media sites. This campaign is a fantastic example of everyone working together, so I want to thank all of the businesses and organisations who have taken part and offered their support.

I also want to remind people about our popular free Park and Ride service in Chichester, which operates every 15 minutes from Chichester College, every weekend up to Christmas, and between 21 and 24 December. Find out more details on our Christmas pages.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year from all of us at Chichester District Council.

Best wishes,

Cllr Tony Dignum

Leader of Chichester District Council

December 2015