Following the new year, your readers are no doubt busy trying to stick to their resolutions.
According to media reports the economic downturn has led to an increase in people volunteering to help charities such as Crisis during the festive period, and I hope this spirit of compassion will continue.
Westminster provides ample opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved in making 2009 a year where they can really make a difference to their local community, and people can gain new skills and make friends as volunteers.
If you aspire to getting fit you may consider offering to help out in one of Westminster's sports clubs, where ahead of London 2012, you could coach teenagers and help young people achieve their goals, while also developing your own coaching abilities. And you don't have to be physically active to help out - anyone with financial skills could share their mathematical know-how with people new to running businesses, thereby giving local people much-needed survival skills during the credit crunch
The council already has a successful partnership with Volunteer Centre Westminster, which advises individuals and groups interested in volunteering about opportunities, and we would like to see volunteer numbers increasing. We will be putting £600,000 towards achieving this goal within the next three years.
I hope we will see even more people grow in confidence and gain additional skills through volunteering, whether that is through the City Guides initiative, which involves local
people signposting visitors around Westminster during major events such as last year's Tour de France, or just offering an hour of their time every so often to help a local youth club, older people's group or school.
To f ind out more about any these schemes and more see www.volunteer.co.uk or call 020 7402 8076.
Cllr Audrey Lewis Cabinet Member for Customers and Neighbourhoods