THE New Year is bringing challenges for many – and not just individuals but collectively.

Charities and organisations providing support in the community or for the common good are feeling the pressures of rising costs, especially in energy.

Many such as churches have been trying to provide a respite, with warm spots available, but that comes at a considerable cost, and most were experiencing difficulties even before the current crisis. Even organisations that predominately operate outside, such as youth sporting teams, have been feeling the pressure.

It’s hard to know what to advise when they seek information on potential sources of funds or even possible benefactors. Even organisations with a relatively high profile, whether the Edinburgh Filmhouse or the city’s Gorgie Farm, have hit difficulties. There’s few if any current public funds available and the usual sources of corporate sponsorship are being deluged.

It’s vital, though, that we do what we can to keep them going. They provide so much and in the grand scheme of things cost so little given the voluntary work inputted by so many. Tariffs should be capable of being reduced for the voluntary sector, just as they should be for individuals and families in need. In the absence of that, then some fund for the third sector is essential.

Parliament’s return brings the UK Government’s attack upon trade unions and the right to strike. Many of the disputes are about the service provided and employment conditions, not just wages. Strikes have come about as wage offers are too low or proposed changes too damaging.

It has to be remembered that it was only through trade unions that many of the rights those in employment now take for granted came about. These proposals aren’t about protecting the public but breaking trade unions.

Our society requires a fair balance between rights of employers and employees. I’ll be opposing this legislation as it’s damaging to us all.