THE acting Bishop of Blackburn has spoken of his optimism for the future despite a tough 2012 in Lancashire.

In his New Year message the Rt Rev John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley, will say that despite difficult economic times ‘hope springs eternal’.

He said: “Life appears to be becoming more hectic with less space for reflection as we seek our own fulfilments and security.

“A conversation recently helped me see that for a lot of people in Lancashire homelessness is never far away.

“People, especially those on low income, look to an overcrowded rental section.

“In a recession where jobs remain at risk, fear grows that failing to meet rent would result in homelessness of individuals and families.

“Too often economic forecasts point to no change or at best slow change towards a more secure future. How do we get off this roundabout and so avoid despair?

“For me, there is a good deal of hope about, even in these dark times. The readiness of people to assist in the increasing number of food banks, the development of such projects as Emmaus communities which look to assist homeless people, are not insignificant shafts of light from which spring hope.

“If 2013 is to be a year of celebration we will, each of us, need to become more accountable for the well-being of our neighbour and I believe this to be possible.

“Over the last 12 years of being a Bishop in Lancashire I have come to appreciate the breadth and depth of readiness for so many to want the good for all.

“Of course a big change for the Church of England and, we pray, one which will bring good for our County, will be the appointment of a new Bishop of Blackburn.

“I am sure the new bishop will build on the good things of the past but also bring in the new as he leads us forward. There will be changes and we will be blessed in them.“