The Bishop of St Albans is asking residents to 'find true happiness' this year in his New Year message.

Reverend Alan Smith said: "As the panic over whether the turkey would fit in the oven recedes, thoughts turn to the coming year.

"Many economists and politicians are optimistic about prospects for the 12 months ahead. After the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929, data from various sources indicate that the economy is growing again.

"During the past six years many people have suffered. They were still suffering this Christmas if demand at foodbanks is anything to go by, some having lost their jobs and others having had to forgo annual wage rises to stay in work.

"However, there are many who believe that the people who caused the crisis have neither learnt any lessons nor taken their fair share of the pain. They point to the ever widening gap between the lowest and highest paid in society.

"So as we think about 2014 and wish one another a ‘Happy New Year’ what might we need to do to make it equally happy for all parts of society?

"As the economy improves everyone needs to share the benefits, which is why I believe we need a new social contract - a social contract which includes our responsibilities and duties as well as our rights. But it is no good waiting for someone else to take the lead.

"Change comes when individuals act differently here and now. For example, one of the ways that employers can do this is by paying, as a minimum, the Living Wage ( This is what we are seeking to do in the Diocese of St Albans.

"But calling on employers to do something doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook. Communities are made up of the people who live in them. All of us can decide to pop round to visit a needy neighbour or increase our giving to charity. We can choose to offer some piece of service or volunteering in the coming year.

"Getting out of our comfort zones can feel challenging. Yet Jesus taught that such altruism is the source of true happiness when he said ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive,’ (Acts 20.35). It’s also a practical way that we can make 2014 a truly ‘Happy New Year’."