Environmental writer Andy Lester writes...

I WAS talking to a national politician recently who said she couldn’t remember a time of greater uncertainty and insecurity in both UK and global politics.

From Brexit to Trump and climate change to the immigration crisis - seldom have we entered a year with so much unpredictability and volatility.

And yet in the midst of real fears and concerns there is still hope and reason to believe that good can overcome.

A few weeks ago I was visiting a new urban reserve in west London that I have helped establish.

As I met the team, three gents walked through the main gate.

The man in the middle was clearly the leader and dressed in leathers, with dark glasses and a gold chain around his neck.

He was built like a wrestler.

The two that flanked him either side were in bulky jackets with shades and bracelets and it was both a comical and somewhat frightening sight.

It was made more concerning when I recognised the man in the middle as one of London’s main drug dealers.

He walked up to me with his minders close behind and announced: “I just wanted to come here today to say that I have been watching what you guys are doing in transforming this place into a community nature place and I am here to say I can’t do bad things here anymore.”

He pointed to his heart and said: “Right here I can feel you are doing good.

“So we are coming in to say we are moving on.

“But if you want any help, Davey here is really handy with a strimmer!”

Never in my life had I expected to come face to face with a class A dealer and realise that what we had collectively achieved on a bit of urban waste land had not just transformed a place where needles and condoms were thrown…..but here was a man with a fearsome reputation, offering to help as well.

When they left, I stood there reflecting on how all things are possible.

That however dark and seemingly overwhelming the world may seem, it is still entirely likely that you will find surprises around the corner that blow you away and remind you that we live in a broken nation-but not a nation without a heart and a soul.

So as we enter the struggles, trials and tribulations of 2019 I am confident that we still have reason to hope and believe.

Over this year I hope to not only keep you informed about the state of our amazing planet, but also offer new creative ideas from the people I meet each day to help shine a light. May I wish you all an inspired and hope-filled 2019.