It's undoubtedly been a depressing year, particularly for those of us on the left of politics. Whether it be Brexit at home or the election of Trump in the States, the refugee crisis and the war in Syria, there has been plenty to depress us. With the onset of winter, the year-round problem of homelessness and the shortage of housing becomes ever more obvious and whether we're the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world it remains shocking that we have a government that allows this problem to not only persist but to get worse.
We've seen a Conservative government largely ignoring the harsh realities of poverty, low-incomes, lack of housing and jobs that have been caused or made worse by their policies as they focus all their attention on Brexit - the scenario that no one had planned for and which they are only now realising is a nightmare in terms of any positive untangling of the UK from the rest of the EU.
But there have been positives this year and the election of Sadiq Khan, the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn and the massive upsurge in Labour Party membership all speak to people wanting to make a positive difference, wanting an alternative, determined to play a part in offering a new vision.
If you've not yet joined the Labour Party, why not come along to any of our meetings - you are more than welcome - and see whether you might want to join up. There's plenty to do and we're a pretty social, as well as socialist, bunch. Even if you don't have time to play an active part, simply by joining you are able to make a real difference. (Press the JOIN button above if you would like to sign up)
We'd like to wish everyone a very happy new year. Small acts of kindness, everyday working together, volunteering in our communities, working for a positive political future, valuing and thanking people, celebrating the good things that happen, listening to people (even those we don't agree with) - there's plenty of this going on and the more of it there is, the more we can all contribute to these things then this is a way of making sure that 2017 is a great year.
On that note, let's have a look at some of the positive things that happened in 2016.
- World hunger is at its lowest point for 25 years.
- The Rio Olympics featured more female athletes than ever before
- The Paris Climate Change Agreement came into force
- For the 24th year in a row, teenage pregnancy rates declined in the UK and US
- Wild tiger numbers increased for the first time in 100 years
- The number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes has almost halved since 1990
- Evidence suggests that major diseases, from colon cancer to heart disease, are now starting to wane in wealthy countries
- India turned on the world’s largest solar power plant – spanning 10 sq km – in the state of Tamil Nadu
- Public smoking bans appear to have improved health in 21 nations
- Black incarceration rates fell in the US
- Measles has been eradicated in the Americas – the first time the disease has been eliminated from an entire world region
- An HIV cure may be a step closer after a trial cleared the virus in a British man
- Italy became the last large Western country to recognise same-sex unions
- China installed 20 gigawatts of solar in the first half of 2016
- Volunteers in India planted 50m trees in 24 hours
- Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, it was announced this year
- The amount of money it would take to eliminate extreme poverty is now lower than the annual foreign aid spend
- Giant pandas are no longer endangered
- The number of deaths from malaria is at a global record low
- The World Bank says we are now one generation away from achieving universal literacy
'Constructive journalism' is on the rise with even the BBC trialling it. This is on the back of research that says negative news appears to lead to depression, anxiety and a readiness to see the worst in others. On the other hand, a daily dose of positive news appears to lead to more volunteering, greater motivation, energy and collaboration.
Maybe we should make sure that although we track the most depressing news of the day we balance this with a healthy dose of what's positive in our world?
Wishing you and yours, and the rest of the world, the very best for 2017