LAST Thursday evening I was one of many guests at the inaugural East Lothian Courier Community Champion Awards, at the Corn Exchange in Haddington.

As the pictures and report testify, it was an event showcasing and celebrating what is best about East Lothian communities and emphasised the point, that no matter what our age or background, we all have something to give in terms of what constitutes community.

Editor Robbie Scott and his team are to be congratulated on an excellent event and addition to the community calendar.

The theme of building community is something that those of you who read my column regularly will have heard me talk about before, and it is something I am passionate about developing and shaping along with you and all our partners. The stronger the sense of community spirit and unity, the more that corrosive elements of criminality and anti-social behaviour are isolated and made to feel in the minority.

A sense of belonging and community is what so many people in our society today lack and this leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which, at its worst extent, can lead to further downward spirals in mental health and addiction.

East Lothian Couriers first-ever Community Awards proved a great success. Image: Gordon Bell

East Lothian Courier's first-ever Community Awards proved a great success. Image: Gordon Bell

I firmly believe, and as the awards demonstrated, there is a community for everyone, whether it is through music, sport, health, social care, entrepreneurial endeavour, education and countless other voluntary groups all enjoying shared interests and service.

Following on from the awards ceremony, I was pleased to meet with The Rev Hayley Cohen, from North Esk Parish Church in Musselburgh, last Friday afternoon, when amongst other things we discussed an initiative known as Street Pastors, which is a volunteer-based organisation with a presence throughout the UK.

It exists through volunteers from churches of all denominations who give up their time to bring practical help to communities by patrolling streets and supporting, listening and caring for people in need. Street Pastors have traditionally been associated with night-time economy work but there is always room for a caring and friendly face on our streets whatever the time of day. There is no active Street Pastor group in East Lothian currently therefore, if you are part of a church and feel this is a ministry area that you or your church would like to be involved in, please get in touch.