I have been thinking a lot about women, our place in the world, society, business, academia, science, culture and of course politics. 

We have shared pain and embraced activism and it has achieved much progress over the centuries. From great literature to advances in science, technology and medicine women have been at the forefront, but still in many cases in the shadows of the men around us. We are judged, ridiculed and discriminated against in every aspect of life and work and yet we persist.

So, I wanted to pay tribute to a whole group of women who don’t get the praise they deserve - the women who look after us in our communities.

I am blessed in my Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency to have some of the best and bravest women beavering away making life just that little bit better for those in their communities.

So, step forward Sally. Sally-anne and the team at the Cross Cafe in Stonehouse.

Sally’s soup not only nourishes and warms our bodies it also nourishes our souls. Everyone who walks through the Cross Cafe doors will be met with a love and warmth that encompasses them like a warm hug. Kindness and compassion in great quantities will be given if you need to use the pantry to get you through tough times. 

To the women at the Cross Cafe this tribute is for you. 

Moving up to Larkhall, if you need solace and support follow the beam of the Lighthouse, there you will get a cuppa and a place to think, discuss and plan. You will also get Nancy or Terry or one of the amazing women who keep this community resource open for those in need. 

To the women at the Lighthouse this tribute is for you. 

Staying in Larkhall we find the wonderful Larkhall District Volunteer Group so ably run by Sandra and her ever resourceful team who have created a sanctuary for older people, tackling loneliness with love, care and of course Mr T’s delicious food. 

To the women at LDVG this tribute is for you.

In Hamilton there are so many amazing organisations doing life-saving work every day like Isobel and her team in Hamilton district food bank. Literally feeding the most vulnerable in our communities. 

To the women at Hamilton food bank this tribute is for you.

Like a jewel in the crown of a Queen sits Dianne, Sandra and the Hillhouse tenants and residents association and the wonderful SOC Saving our Communities - the name says it all.

If they are not creating wonderful community spaces, they are running events to raise funds to give our children Easter, Halloween or Christmas fun. In SOC you can knit, craft, learn the guitar, train in mental health first aid and learn to cook, alongside the homework club.

There is magic in all they do at the community cafe from the food and clothing banks to the support services they partner with, they help repair lives broken by the ravages of a cost of living crisis. Oh and the cafe has good home cooking that fills bellies and doesn’t break the bank.

To Dianne, Sandra, SOC hall and the Hillhouse women this tribute is for you.

As I said earlier women should be justifiably proud of what they have achieved in many fields but this tribute is for the mammies, aunties, sisters and grannies who keep our communities in their hearts and use their daily toil to make life better. They are often forgotten hero’s in the story of our lives but what would we do without them? 

I write this tribute for that very reason and I thank them all each and everyone of them for all they do, happy International Women's Day.