One year on from Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing the country’s move into lock down local MP Maria Miller has reflected on the how Basingstoke has been affected and the challenges we face for the future.
Maria said, “My overwhelming feeling for the past 12 months has been of people in our community stepping forward and stepping up. Doctors, nurses, NHS management, support staff and the ambulance service doing whatever was needed to keep our Hospital and health services operating each and every day. The Police, Fire Service, armed forces and other emergency workers showing the flexibility to adapt their roles to what was needed, from helping to distribute protective clothing, to the rapid rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine. Teachers, carers and frontline workers in supermarkets and shops putting their jobs before themselves; and the incredible army of volunteers, in their hundreds, running community based hubs, delivering food, prescriptions and friendship to those not able to rely on their own families and friends for support. The actions of these unsung heroes saved lives and we owe each and every one of them our thanks.
“On this one year anniversary, first and foremost, our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones during this pandemic, including those who lost their lives to the Covid19 virus. To suffer loss without the comfort of family and friends has been the hardest to bear.
“As the vaccine now rolls out we can start to look forward to community life reopening. The NHS are already tackling the backlog of patients who have been waiting for much needed treatment. A top priority needs to be those people who are out of work. More than 16 000 people in Basingstoke were supported in their jobs through the Government’s furloughing scheme, and many thousands of business received an array of Government grants and loans, but others saw their jobs disappear and are struggling financially. The economic recovery needs to focus on supporting businesses to create more jobs, particularly through schemes like Kickstart, designed to help people just starting out to get workplace experience they need.
“Through these difficult times we have learnt about how things can be done differently and better: to start with, let’s hope we retain some our new found expertise in effective home working to permanently take pressure off public transport and the roads. But one lesson shines brighter than the rest, the importance of investing in the resilience of communities. Whilst local government played an essential role, it is charities like Spotlight, Inspero, and the Food Bank that made sure every Basingstoke family could get the support they needed and didn’t face uncertain times. It was community centres like Carnival Hall and the Sycamore Centre that were there to open their doors to provide space for community emergency hubs, to pack food parcels and prepare hot meals. Community infrastructure is an essential part of Basingstoke and was crucial to our strong response to the pandemic. We need to make sure that this community infrastructure grows as our community grows, so that is continues to provide a spine of support for everyone.”