These past few weeks have been very difficult for our community. Our daily routines and lives have been turned upside down as we stay indoors and remember the things we used to take for granted. But, amongst all the fear and anxiety the community spirit of our area has shone through. I have heard touching stories of neighbours fetching groceries for vulnerable households, walking dogs for elderly residents and offering companionship through phone calls. In times like this the resilience and generosity of our community will always show itself.
I thought I might highlight a few positive things that have happened this week. Shops across the country, including Tesco, ALDI and Sainsbury’s, recognised the impact of panic buying on elderly and vulnerable people and reserved special slots for them to get their shopping done. Businesses like Home Bargains and Greggs have put the welfare of their workers in front of profits, paying their wages whilst they self-isolate. Mercedes Formula 1 team helped develop a breathing aid for Covid-19 patients that doesn’t involve tubes through the skin or mouth. The Government introduced unprecedented financial support packages to support both company employees and self-employed workers. Companies like BrewDog have started manufacturing hand sanitiser instead of their normal products. Air pollution is down almost 50% than it was this time last year. And, the whole nation went outside and clapped to thank our NHS frontline workers, support staff and carers who are putting themselves at risk to help us at this difficult time.
We still have a lot of work to do to tackle this disease and its impact but these are all important first steps. Public health and safety needs to come first. Personal protective equipment is needed on the frontline and far more testing for coronavirus needs to take place. I will support every measure to make sure we have the supplies we need, as well as universal community-based testing and contact tracing programmes.
We need clarification on what ‘essential work’ is so that everyone who is not a key worker can stay at home, protecting their health and the health of their loved ones. Confusion has allowed bosses to keep trading often without adequate measures in place- like the ASOS warehouse in Great Houghton making workers to come in. I have written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and BEIS Secretary of State and will continue to campaign for the Government to change its guidance on this & close all non-essential workplaces. And until they do all should be complying to government guidance without any excuses.
Self-employed workers who started their businesses after April of last year should be offered the same support as everyone else and payments need to be made now to help households who are already facing real hardship.
This crisis is the biggest of most of our lifetimes and new challenges emerge every day.
I will keep fighting for the support, resources and help our community needs to weather this crisis and together we will get through this.
Throughout all this my constituency office remains open, albeit with the staff working remotely from home, and we are here to offer help and support as we navigate through these difficult times. If you need assistance please do not hesitate to get in contact, either by leaving a voicemail on 01226 743483 or by email to [email protected]