Coronavirus is a real threat and the health of our loved ones can no longer be taken for granted. Those who feel they are vulnerable should take particular care, but the need self-isolation shouldn’t become an excuse for social isolation and ignoring one another.
Many people have told me about their real fears for their health or their family’s as well as real uncertainty about how to pay the rent or keep the home together. These are real concerns. But a crisis like this does bring our communities together. We’ve already seen amazing individual acts of kindness and volunteers acting in the community and all of us can help by keeping our eyes open for our neighbours and particularly those who need that little bit of extra help.
Rochdale Foodbank is a long-established example of volunteers helping the vulnerable. The number of people who rely on the Foodbank is increasing dramatically and last month alone saw 420 Rochdalians visiting the Foodbank which is a sharp increase on last year. During this crisis they are accepting food donations at Tesco Rochdale or at the Council’s staff entrance at Number One Riverside (accessed from Smith Street by Gala Bingo ). Monetary donations can also be made on their website at www.rochdale.foodbank.org.uk
The government has slowly been getting to grips with the situation, although they have some way to go. Health spending has got to match the growing health need and we’ve got some catching up to do as we make up for the lack of Intensive Care beds and ventilators in our hospitals. And we are way behind on testing. Our frontline workers like health, police, fire service or carers must be a priority. Key workers with a light cough need the reassurance they can go into work and keep us all safe or stay at home so as not to put others at risk
Government has begun to provide a package of measures to protect companies and that’s so far so good. But this is about people and many will not get paid, will not get enough or any sick pay, will not be able to pay the rent or the gas bill. We’ve get to make sure support is there for them so we can all get through this together. This is a difficult time but we have to get through and it’s volunteers and our public servants that will help us do it.