By David Gledhill Marketing & Communications Lead
If ever there was a need for communities to pull together and watch out for their own, then it is during the current coronavirus crisis.
The authorities, including those at the sharp end in the NHS and public health, are doing a fantastic job, but they can’t do it all, and they can’t do it by themselves. They need our help.
We have some very strong communities across Torbay, but some are less so, and we have to stop to consider what we mean by a community. In this case, we have to think small; we have to think local, we have to think within yards of our doorsteps.
We were more unlucky than most in the Bay with some of the earliest cases of coronavirus being discovered in people returning from Northern Italy causing the temporary closure of Churston Ferrers School and doctor’s surgeries in Chelston.
But it meant that the very real threat was brought home in very clear terms, very early on and some people that we have come across, particularly and inevitably through the Ageing Well Torbay programme are scared and stressed.
Already we are aware through our community builders that some people are self-isolating for fear of contracting the virus, particularly those that already have an underlying condition that would be exacerbated.
Some of them may not even have had the chance to tell their friends and neighbours what they were planning and may be in need of top-up supplies being delivered to their door.
Not everyone either has the will or the ability to stockpile – they might not be able to afford a big shop and even if they could, would never be able to carry the heavy bags home and may now have very limited supplies.
We all need to think about who we haven’t seen for a few days – it may be a neighbour, it may be someone further along the street, they may be older, but they may also be younger, but have existing problems that make them vulnerable.
Is there someone in your street? It doesn’t take a minute to pop round and ask the question – if they aren’t, they will be incredibly grateful, and if they are, they will appreciate your concern anyway.
You don’t have to put yourself at risk – you don’t need to make physical contact, and you don’t need to get close enough to risk infection. Shout it across the garden if it makes you feel better, but do it. Someone not very far from you might need you.
There is lots of advice out there from the Department of Health, and by far the most important tips are to ensure you keep your hands clean with regular washing for at least as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday at least twice.
Then there is the catchy mantra – Catch it, Bin it, Kill it which applies to coughs and sneezes not being made into your hands, but into a handkerchief or into the crook of your elbow.
Beyond that, there appears to be little anyone can do in the Bay other than follow sensible advice, and for those most at risk, to self isolate. Among the older population that need will be more prevalent than among the young.
We need to accept that because our population in the Bay is older than the national average – nearly 50% are over the age of 50, and one in four are over the age of 65 – then the problem here could be worse than in any other areas. We hope not, but no-one knows.
We are in it for the long haul, and we need to check on each other, not just today, but tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Our neighbours may need favours – shopping collecting prescriptions, dog walking, phone buddying, to name but a few, that will allow them to stay in their own homes, some with the illness and some who are self-isolating.
People need each other more today than they have for many years and it will test the connections that have been eroded. Hopefully though the traditions are strong and they can be restored when they are most needed. Now.
If you need help or want to offer help the non-emergency phone line, which will be staffed 8am-8pm is 01803 446022. Brixham Does Care can be contacted directly on 01803 857727 (Mon-Fri 9am to 4:30pm).