Community spirit has always been one of the many strengths of our special corner of England.
I have seen so many wonderful examples of help and support since the start of the pandemic – which has become the most serious national crisis we have faced in our lifetimes. With the second wave of this deadly virus upon us, one thing that is clear – that things will get better, faster, if we continue to work together and look out for each other.
One such example is the Super Neighbours scheme that we started up in our area in March, acting as an additional safety net across the area to complement so many excellent charities and local groups, Super Neighbours go shopping, get medical and other supplies and provide company. Co-ordinated by Beverley-Jayne Last, it has helped many people across the area. Especially those who may be less well connected with everyday help and support or where family from further afield who usually step in to help have not been able to travel.
Other volunteers have been helping specifically with mental health –Tracy Carr’s Talk It Out group has offered online and telephone counselling. In addition, it has won coveted National Lottery funding for its work in providing food parcels and one-to-one support for vulnerable households.
Dover District Council’s Leader Cllr Trevor Bartlett has overseen a range of ‘on the ground’ support across the district, including dedicated teams for food parcels to the shielded and needy, and organising thousands of emergency grants to businesses and charities. Many villages and local groups have activated their own networks to rally round, with so many parish and town councils playing a leading role.
Yet it is some of the individual acts of kindness and generosity which have just been so inspiring. Just this weekend I wrote to eight-year-old Scarlett Smith from Dover. Scarlett is an amazing youngster who has raised the bar for her response to the first lockdown. She worked tirelessly to support so many good causes – raising money for the NHS and homeless charity Emmaus Dover, undertaking 5k runs as well as online pageants, beach cleaning and growing her own vegetables. All while keeping up with her schoolwork.
During this time of national crisis, helping others is such a good way to stay positive and well. While we may not always be able to be with people as we have been used to, the old skills of talking on the phone and writing letters, accompanied by more modern ones of Zooming and messaging, keep us all close and not strangers.
As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, I know that our whole community stands ready to support each other and see us through. Every one of us has a vital role to play. My team and I stand ready to help and assist. In time, together, we will emerge from this stronger than ever before.