As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, I believe we will all agree that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for us all. It has provided challenges that were beyond our imagination, and I think that most of us will be happy to see the back of it and look forwards to a more normal life, helped by the introduction of vaccines.
From being told to stay home in March, this year has been like no other. Many of you will have had to adjust to working from home, whilst others will have had to go to work, some of you will have been on furlough and let us not forget those who have unfortunately lost their jobs. The fact that many in our community are struggling with lack of money, worries over health and housing and not being able to see relatives – never leaves my mind.
Yet, it was in these uncertain times when our community came together to support one another. It was heart-warming to see my neighbours clap for NHS Staff, carers and other key workers every Thursday during the Spring lockdown. It reminded us that we are all making sacrifices and doing our bit in helping the NHS and our communities. The work being done by our Foodbanks is amazing, helped by the generosity and kindness of many in Halton.
I want to thank all NHS staff and carers, alongside all our other keyworkers. Our key workers in Halton have risked their own health to serve our community and keep the borough moving, which has helped us to maintain some sense of normality. They are the heroes of this pandemic.
The hospitality industry has taken a big hit this year. I was particularly impressed by the measures landlords and restaurant owners had taken to make sure their premises were “Covid safe”. However, for many it is still a struggle.
Schools reopened in September and I would like to thank our teachers and school staff for making this happen. You have worked hard to ensure the children of Halton are not at a disadvantage because of time off. I was inspired to see so many young people work together and succeed in overturning the unfair results that they were given. I will work hard to ensure that this year’s students are treated fairly and with consideration when it is time for them to take their exams.
Unfortunately, we saw ourselves back in a national lockdown in November, which could have been avoided if the Government had not mishandled the situation. However, like we did in Spring, the people of Halton came together again and through a collective effort we saw a massive reduction in our infection rate. Halton came out of the lockdown in Tier 2 and during a meeting with Government Ministers today I was told that we will remain in Tier 2 from Boxing Day.
We were met with the fantastic news in November that vaccines were progressing and they would start to roll out across the country once they were approved, which has started to happen. I will be taking the vaccine when I am eligible, and I encourage you to take it when contacted by your GP surgery. I would like to thank our GPs and health workers for making this happen so quickly in Halton; as we must protect our vulnerable people.
As the vaccine is rolled out across the country, we can look forward to 2021 with some optimism that we’ll be returning a more normal life in the coming months, we must not lose focus now. It is important that we maintain good hand hygiene, wear a face covering, and keep social distancing.
As we sit down for our Christmas Dinner this year, for many of us, it will be very different to normal. Some of you will be missing a loved one at the table and my heart goes out to you. Many of us, myself included, will not see our children due to the situation across the country and this is heart-wrenching, but we must continue to work together to keep rates down in Halton. Let us all continue to look out for each other, making sure that our elderly neighbours, those that live alone, or are vulnerable are supported.
It is a great honour to serve you as your Member of Parliament – a privilege I never forget. I will always be on your side, working hard to get the best I can for Halton. I am reminded of a line from the Old Testament, Book of Ruth which I believe is a powerful message, irrespective of whether you hold religious views;
‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’
Working together, supporting each other and with the help of science we shall overcome this difficult challenge we face. Finally, I would like to wish all my constituents a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.