25th March 2020
Thank you so much.
Seeking to launch a directory of voluntary organisations able to offer help to the isolated, housebound and disabled throughout what is likely to be the very long duration of the Covid 19 pandemic our office launched an appeal. The response was characteristically generous and impressive and notwithstanding the safeguarding issues involved in matching clients to helpers we are now able to refer those seeking assistance to those able to offer help.
That is sharp contrast to the actions of the vultures who have on a daily basis and wholly unnecessarily stripped the bones of most supermarket shelves bare while stockpiling goods that would otherwise not be in short supply. While some ranges may become limited over the coming months there really is no need or excuse for `panic buying`. We have to hope that once the available cash has been spent and every last nook, cranny, garage and garden shed has been filled with tins of baked beans, pasta and lavatory paper retail life may return to something resembling normal even in these dark days. In the meantime, one cannot help noticing that while the supermarkets are being pillaged many of the smaller convenience stores and village shops at present still have essential goods available to sell to those who do not wish to buy in bulk.
It is right that attention has been focussed on the infirm and the elderly for it is they (alright, `we`) who are at most risk and the name of the first game is to preserve health and life. There are, though, two other groups of people that now deserve considerable attention. While the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has done much to protect the livelihoods of very many employees and the future of many businesses there remain thousands of small enterprises established by the self-employed who are frequently working alone, who are in desperate need of measures to keep them afloat. Taxi drivers and childminders and driving instructors and wedding photographers and book keepers and construction workers and dozens of those other enterprising people who have always been the backbone of our economy need a sensible safety net and they need it now. This column is inevitably written in advance to meet a deadline and in a fast-moving scenario I hope that by the time that this is published the Government will have introduced a scheme that will allow our self-employed entrepreneurs to survive and, ultimately, once again thrive.
The other group that has attracted relatively little coverage is the young and, particularly, those who have been working hard in the expectation of delivering good exam results and then enjoying a summer before moving onward and upward with their lives. We have all seen the pictures of those taking hurried farewells of friends and teaching staff, probably and unexpectedly for the last time, before heading off not into the sunshine but into `social distancing` that may last for many months. To be cooped up with even the strongest family without respite and without access to pubs and clubs and restaurants and planned vacations will be hard for all of us and will place a huge strain on many relationships. For the young, who ought to be out enjoying life and making friends and influencing people and seeking and winning new opportunities, new jobs or off seeing the world it will be a year out of their lives that will never be replaced. Those of us of a certain age have, I think, a duty and a responsibility to make enforced leisure and social isolation as constructive and as positive as possible.
Team Gale, (Suzy, George, Debi, Carol, Juliette and myself) are geared up for the long haul. Although as the resident geriatric I have been largely confined to home working – I suspect chiefly to keep me out from under the feet of the others – we shall continue to go `the extra mile` to try to offer as much support and comfort as we can and to respond personally and positively to the concerns that are now landing in our inboxes. I am hugely grateful for the fact that we shall be doing that with the backing and practical support of, in addition to the dedicated professionals of the health and other services, a vast army, locally and nationwide, of public spirited and determined volunteers.