The 23 March is a date which many people may not instantly recognise as being worthy of any sort of commemoration. But it was on this date last year that the country went into its first national lockdown due to COVID-19. It is hard to take in that a full year of our lives has gone by since then. And what a very different and challenging year it has been for us all.
There are very few events or moments in history which unite entire populations and certainly fewer still which impact the world on such a monumental level. I certainly cannot recall anything in my lifetime which has had such an impact on me, my family, and my day to day life.
Without doubt, COVID-19 has been life-changing for us all, and, as we approach the first anniversary of lockdown, I’m sure that I’m not alone in reflecting on all that has happened. Some of my memories of the last year are far from happy ones, of course. But also, I have been trying to see the positive moments in our shared experiences over the last 12 months. The extreme kindnesses which people have shown, the community spirit which has been so evident, and the passion and bravery of so many who have battled COVID-19, whether personally or in support of others. Many of these people are of course still battling today.
I know that I have learnt lots of things about myself over the last year. I have learnt just how important I find human contact, how much I miss things like celebrating family moments, watching the match with friends, or having a holiday or event to look forward to.
But I also learnt how incredibly lucky I am to miss things like this, when so many people are so much more impacted. While I am missing “things”, many people are missing loved ones – family or friends who they have lost to the virus. And others are missing the comfort of job security or the peace of mind from knowing that they have enough money to feed their family. And then of course there are others whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.
COVID-19 might be a virus, but its impact stretches way beyond the physical and often debilitating symptoms which it causes. “Recovery” from COVID-19 is something which we can hopefully look forward to in the coming months and years ahead. It will take some time for us all to get back on our feet, build our confidence, and be hopeful again, but I am sure that we will get there.
Some of the challenges which we face will be greater than others. As a Council, we have for many months now been talking about this recovery and how we plan to support our people, our businesses, and our communities in the months ahead. That’s why we agreed £14.5 million of investment to support residents who most need it most and support the recovery of the Borough after the impact of COVID-19. That includes a £2.5m Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, a £6.4m Knowsley Better Together Recovery Fund, and a further £5.6m to support the delivery of essential Council services and support to residents. You can read more about this on Knowsley News.
By confirming these resources now, I hope that we can reassure residents that we are looking to the future and that we are, as we have been throughout the pandemic, here to help our residents and business to recover from the last 12 months. You will be hearing lots more about this work in the coming months. Lots more about the support which we are providing, more about the major developments which are still progressing well and bringing investment and opportunity to the Borough, more about how we are supporting our young people to catch up after months away from classrooms, how we are working with community groups to target help where it is needed most, and how we will continue to support care homes and carers who have been so directly impacted by the virus. The list is long, but the resolve and determination to continue to work together for a brighter future is steadfast.
So, as we join in the National Day of Reflection – a moment to remember everyone impacted by COVID-19 – let’s also take this as an opportunity to look forward – together.