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The Coronavirus Pandemic Part 1

By Sarah Bamford Up Hatherley Parish Council

Monday, 1 June 2020

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Up Hatherley Parish Council Chair

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I’ve been having a think about how the world (and our community) has changed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

What is emerging for me is a list of the positive things that have happened – many of which we should carry on doing (or not doing!). It is also clear to me that the systems we have developed to support vulnerable members of our community were needed before the pandemic and will be needed in the future.

With beautiful Spring weather, most airplanes grounded, traffic reduced, schools closed, employees furloughed and many more people walking, running and cycling, there is now a chance to appreciate the environment that we live in and think about how we could protect it for future generations.

What follows economically is going to be extremely hard for many people. With a reduction in donations as well as increased hardship, we are already seeing food poverty for many people who were previously able to manage. Continued employment, job protection, furlough payments, small business help and protected pensions are not there for everyone. Many people in our community are going to be hit hard financially, still liable for rent and mortgage payments but without the income to support them. In our big cities, action was taken to accommodate street homeless people in hotels, but there is now a second wave of people sleeping rough – those who could only afford their accommodation when they had employment. This will be the situation in towns and cities throughout the country.

There has also been what one commentator termed a “redistribution of esteem”. Some people and corporations have really stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic – going the extra mile to help. Some companies have treated their employees abysmally. We now have a greater appreciation of the NHS – but also of care workers, shop workers, delivery drivers, refuse collectors, pharmacists and postal workers. Will we continue to value the people that helped us the most in times of crisis?

So, the question forming in my mind is how do we hang on to the positives, how do we avoid returning to old habits if they were harmful and how do we put in place a system for supporting vulnerable members of our community.

These are my first thoughts:

  1. Gloucestershire Police in conjunction with local authorities have created the framework for an organisation which outreaches to vulnerable citizens and directs volunteers to where they can help. Could this be the future for Neighbourhood Watch so we have at street level an organisation that watches out for one another and connects to people who are isolated – particularly those who don’t use social media or the internet?
  2. One of the really positive features of recent weeks for those of us lucky enough to be able to take regular exercise has been the chance to talk to people you didn’t know before (at a distance of 2 metres). Even those who are self- isolating at home have had the experience of people telephoning them to find out how they are. Loneliness and isolation existed before the pandemic and will continue afterwards. We really need to continue with kindness and thoughtfulness on an ongoing basis.
  3. At our May meeting, UHPC agreed a £1000 donation to the Mayor’s fund for Foodbanks. Members agreed that if more was required then we would give further support. A big shout out to Morrisons who have gone the extra mile to help foodbanks week in and week out.
  4. Due to the Lockdown restrictions, the Parish Council’s May meeting was held as a Virtual meeting (on Zoom) and we opened the meeting up to the public, enabling us to make some decisions. We should not rule out the possibility of virtual meetings even after Lockdown restrictions ease. Whilst face to face contact is preferable for many, a virtual meeting can be easier both physically and mentally for others...

Contact Information

Sarah Bamford

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Up Hatherley, Up Hatherley, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

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