Thursday, 25 December 2014

Family and Faith: Ingredients for a Bermondsey Christmas

On this most special of days, we remember a very ordinary family dealt the most extraordinary set of cards: a poor young Jewish woman who conceived her child in exceedingly unconventional circumstances; a loving working-class man who devoted himself to his wife and son; a baby, who from the moment of his birth in a stable was destined to change the world forever.
Last night Bermondsey children from Shad Thames to the Old Kent Road left out mince pies and glasses of sherry for Santa, together with handfuls of carrots for his reindeer.  Today, thousands in Bermondsey will be celebrating Christmas Day remembering the birth of Jesus Christ and his family.  Many will be spending their day alone; some through choice, and others sadly through their own personal difficulties such as homelessness, loneliness or poor mental health.  Thankfully, local charities such as Crisis, the Robes Project and the Manna Centre will be on hand to help out over the Christmas and New Year period.

Christmas at More London (image ©
Strong families are the bedrock of Bermondsey and should be actively promoted and supported by our local institutions regardless of political or religious affiliation.  As we in Bermondsey know, a closely knit family can often be the difference between hope and fear, success or failure, even life and death.  Strong families make strong communities and are the answer to many of our problems today. 
Nine members of the eleven-strong O'Rourke family of St James's Road, Bermondsey, sleep under a blanket in an air raid shelter under the railway arches, probably at Dockley Road, Bermondsey in November 1940. image and text ©
The Holy Family was like the average Bermondsey working-class family in many ways: they didn't have it easy (there were probably more hard days for Joseph and Mary than our Christmas rose-tinted glasses allow us to see); they worked hard for everything that they had and crucially, gained strength from sticking together.  And, guiding them forward was their faith in something greater than themselves.  Pop down The Blue for some choice cuts of beef at Bell and Sons butchers any day of the week and ask Bermondsey women and men what's important to them: faith, family, flag and our future - any Millwall FC fan will confirm it's as simple as that!

The Blue Market, Southwark Park Road (image ©
A very happy Bermondsey Christmas to all of you! 

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