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I am very privileged to be able to spend Christmas / New Year on holiday and it is usually in South Africa. The first response of most people is to ask “Is it safe?” Well, South Africa does have high crime figures and it does have a big gap between rich and poor but so does the USA.


By and large if you avoid certain areas, do not travel around areas you do not know late at night and do not walk around with big cameras or iPads asking to be stolen then it feels safe and friendly.


Since the end of apartheid, huge progress has been made in terms of water, sanitation and electricity provision to poorer areas. With some very poor or difficult countries on its doorstep South Africa faces a problem with migrants moving from Zimbabwe, Malawi and other African countries for a better life. It seems as soon as one set of temporary shacks is replaced by brick house than more people arrive.


The physical beauty and diversity of the country is awesome. Great beaches, mountains, animals, birdlife and fantastic food and wine. What’s not to like.


However, it is back to work and the challenge of funding our full range of services at a time of cutbacks. I must credit Neal Murphy of Signs of Hope who emailed a few of us after attending a council / voluntary sector engagement event. He wrote “the message that I heard was that many services that act as a ‘sign at the top of a cliff’ are being sacrificed for those that provide the ambulances at the bottom.’” Well said, Neal. I do agree preventative services are being cut back harder than most.

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