The first thing I’d like to do in this week’s update is wish you all a very happy VE Day anniversary for Friday. It is 75 years since the people of our country took to the streets to celebrate peace in Europe and a crucial step towards the ending of World War 2. Back then, a whole generation endured six years of war. They saw loved ones die, had their lives turned upside down. And, even after the war ended, rationing continued for another nine years and the country had to completely rebuild its economy.
Both those who served in the Armed Forces during World War 2 and those who stayed behind made immeasurable sacrifices which, in turn, gave us the freedom we continue to enjoy today. When we begin a day of celebrations at 11am tomorrow with a two-minute silence, there is much for us to reflect on.
What we know, thinking back to 75 years ago and also living through this Coronavirus pandemic, is that the power of the human spirit is a remarkable thing. When faced with incredible hardship or adversity, there is still compassion and kindness and positivity to be seen in our communities.
As we head into this Bank Holiday weekend, we are all eagerly awaiting the promised update from Government, and I am sure we all hope that it will give us a clearer idea of what comes next. I know people are desperate to see a path back to some kind of “normality” – even though, whatever we return to, it is unlikely to be the same as before. I am hopeful however that there will be some positives to take from the difficulties we have faced, including a strong resurgence of community spirit and appreciation for the little things in life that can bring so much joy.
I do need to sound a note of caution that the current advice to “Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives” still stands this weekend. Whilst we all want to look to the future and a time when these lockdown restrictions are eased – we are not there yet. Having made sacrifices of our own for six weeks now, it is really important that we don’t throw away the hard-won progress and that we therefore continue to follow advice. We are hearing a lot of the news about being “past the peak” – but our more local figures show that here in the North West we’re a little behind the national curve, so we appear to be very much still at the peak. In any case, we all need to bear in mind that being at or past the peak does not mean there are no longer any risks. Sadly, hundreds of people are still dying of this virus every day – so, if we want to protect our loved ones and ourselves, we must continue to act responsibly and keep adhering to the guidance as it currently stands.
I also want to reiterate again my thanks to all of you who are still working, providing essential services for our communities. I’m sure that many of you join in with me at 8pm every Thursday in a round of applause for the NHS and other essential workers. For me, that gratitude is due to each and every key worker – from those who continue to empty our bins, to our social workers, carers, volunteers, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, postal workers, and more… we have been depending on you all, more than ever, to get through this period.
I’d also like to send a particular note of thanks to all those teachers and school staff who have kept their schools open for Bank Holiday Friday to allow our most vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers to attend. I’m sure that any parent or carer who is attempting to “home school” at the moment has an even greater respect for teachers than ever before – but put on top of that the dedication our teaching staff have shown to help keep kids safe, entertained and well cared for through this crisis – thank you. It is appreciated much more than you can ever know.
As your local Council, we will be watching closely to see what developments the coming days and weeks bring – we certainly do not expect a sudden end to this lockdown, but, whatever happens, we will continue to work to support you, and fight for whatever our Borough needs to get through this crisis.
Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend.