Stay positive – because together we will beat the virus

It’s now a month since the lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

We may be locked down, but we won’t be stopped. It’s incredible how our community has rallied round the most vulnerable among us and those in need of help.

Since I set up the Super Neighbours scheme with Dover District Council Leader Cllr Trevor Bartlett, we have been inundated with volunteers wanting to help. And those volunteers have made such a difference, helping people with the weekly shop, delivering prescriptions, a friendly chat – even mowing the lawn!

Meanwhile parishes, Together4Dover and many other groups are working hard to help too. And as well as the Super Neighbours, we also have some Super Businesses. The Dover Marina hotel has been providing free hot meals, Buckland Press have printed free leaflets and posters. It’s amazing what people will do to be there for each other when it counts.

We have found ways of connecting differently too. It is amazing how quickly we have adapted and collectively kept our spirits up as a nation. We’ve found new ways of working, from communicating by Skype, Zoom, Facetime and video conference to turning shops, restaurants and even B&Q into delivery businesses and takeaways. But make no mistake, it’s going be a tough few months for businesses and workers alike.

Up and down the land, parents have had the chance to spend more time with their children – and be reminded how dedicated our teachers are. Many others have been learning new skills, from baking bread to learning a new language to writing scripts and videos to getting on with long delayed house improvements.

We now know that there will be an extended period where our lives will feel very different. Yet we should not look forward with dismay. Already there are pilot projects being run all over the country to see how recycling tips and shops can safely be re-opened. I remain hopeful that Kent County Council will get some of our local recycling centres up and running. Garden centres may follow soon, which would be a much-needed boost for both gardeners and garden centre owners.

We have adapted to plan and queue for our groceries, to follow one-way arrows and distancing stickers. We can – and I am sure will – meet the challenge of re-opening in a measured and sustainable way.

Already in four short weeks, we have kept connected, innovated, supported each other, and thrived. So we should seek the positive and continue to learn and adapt. To improve our skills, find new ways to conduct business and work to keep the economy going.

There are going to be further changes ahead. Let’s use this time now to prepare and be prepared for change that is needed. Most of all we should keep positive and cheerful, knowing that together we will beat the virus.

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