Column: the Covid-19 crisis

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 10th April:

We’re entering our fourth week of social distancing measures next Monday. Four weeks waving at neighbours from afar and limiting our social interactions. It’s been tough.

NHS staff and careworkers are working around the clock to look after us and key workers are doing their best to keep our country running. We have rallied together to help vulnerable neighbours, elderly people and relatives. While we still have a way to go before this is over, I am comforted by the knowledge that I belong to such a kind and generous community. This crisis will pass and we will be reunited with our loved ones.

It’s never been more important that we look after ourselves, both physically and mentally. Exercise has been proven to improve chances of beating coronavirus, boosting our immune system and reducing our vulnerability to infection. It also can provide a sense of normality and rhythm to our everyday lives, which have undergone huge disruption in recent weeks.

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a big impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It’s causing people to feel anxious, stressed, worried, bored, sad and frustrated. Please know you are not alone. It’s normal to react this way. There are ways we can look after ourselves and those we care about. Keep in contact with your loved ones. Call people, video conference and use social media to stay in touch with people you care about. A burden shared is a burden halved. Talk about your worries with those you trust. Help others. From reaching out to someone who might be lonely to volunteering to help those self-isolating or vulnerable, helping someone else gives a sense of purpose to days that often feel meaningless.

The Open University has launched a series of free courses, on topics from psychology to sign language.

Self-care can take many forms, from looking after your first potted plant to cooking a good meal. There are so many things we can do to take care of our physical and mental wellbeing.

My constituency office remains open to help all those who need assistance. Please call 01226 743 483 or email [email protected]

I will keep fighting to get stranded friends and family home from abroad, to make sure self-employed workers have the support they need to survive this crises and help employees who just missed the deadline to be furloughed obtain financial aid.