By Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council
I don’t know about you but this last week has definitely started to feel more and more like we are getting back to some kind of normal. More and more people are out and about and it has been great to see so many familiar faces after so many months isolated within our own families and “bubbles”.
Whilst these social adjustments might be welcome for many, I also recognise that getting back out there into society and mixing with larger groups of people can also cause anxiety for some members of our communities. Not just in terms of our own physical health, or worries about the risk of contracting COVID 19, but also in terms of mental health. I have talked many times in my updates about the impact of lockdown on our mental wellbeing and this remains a key concern for me as we move to the next phase of recovery after the pandemic. For many people, being at home has offered them security and has been a stabilising force during this very worrying time. The idea of suddenly getting back out there again might be quite daunting and I think this is something we all need to be aware of and respect.
I know that, when I have been out and about over the last couple of weeks, you can clearly see that some people are nervous. I can understand that. Furthermore, I think we all have a part to play in helping allay those concerns, supporting our local businesses to welcome back trade safely and in continuing to keep our fellow Knowsley residents safe from risk.
This is why it is crucially important for us to continue to follow the guidance, maintain social distancing, continue with strict handwashing, and make sure we get tested if we do display any symptoms. We also all need to start getting used to wearing masks – not just on public transport but in shops and in any place indoors where social distancing cannot be maintained. This is a new rule from the Government and one that will take a bit of getting used to for many of us. But it’s a small price to pay if it means we can start to mix with our friends again, support our local shops, or get back to work safely.
Indeed, in the coming weeks, as more business open and people start to eat out again, we are all going to get more used to seeing people in face masks as a new normal. In fact, I am sure there will come a point when remembering to leave the house with your mask will be no more extraordinary than making sure you have your keys, wallet or phone. We might be some way off that just yet but I think – if we all commit to playing our part – we will navigate these new rules and challenges together, just as we have done in Knowsley throughout the pandemic.
And speaking, as I so often do, about our joint efforts during this difficult time, I just wanted to give a particular mention to our schools. Across the borough, our schools have gone above and beyond to support Knowsley children and young people during these last 17 weeks since they closed their usual offer to pupils. The reality here is that none of our schools actually closed – in Knowsley, each and every one of them remained open for the children of key workers and those most in need. What this meant was that children and young people here were welcomed daily into settings that were familiar to them, and by people who they knew and felt safe to be around. Given the uncertainties and worries impacting us all over the recent months, this is something I am personally really proud of and I want to thank each and every person who helped to make that happen. So, as our schools come to the end of term this week, I want to wish all our teachers, staff, governors and all those involved in the safe running of our schools an enjoyable summer. I know that lots of work is still to be done over the holidays but I hope there is at the least a moment for reflection on just how much you have all achieved and how proud you should be of the difference you have made to so many children, young people and families. On behalf of the Council, thank you all.
And again with schools breaking up for the summer this week, the work to keep our children and young people entertained kicks into another gear as holiday activities take over where our schools have left off. This summer I am delighted that, despite everything that is going on, our young people will still have access to a range of low-cost or free activities, ranging from sports and cooking to gardening and arts. These activities will be delivered in a number of ways – some will be the more normal “in person” activities, and others will take place online. Some of the activities are specifically just for kids, but some are actually for families to enjoy together. I’m really pleased that lots of our “real life” events will also include nutritious food for those who take part, at no cost.
We have a roundup of events on Knowsley News – and we will be adding to them as more sessions and activities are confirmed. Please take a look and see what you and your child might be interested in.