Things should never be the same again

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

Well that was one Easter break that we will not forget in a hurry. Sunshine, warmth and four walls in which to enjoy it. Tragic.

But not as tragic as venturing out unnecessarily may have been for someone else – someone you never knowingly met and will never know that you were responsible for their illness or even their death.

A few weeks ago none of this would have seemed possible – the virus, the lockdown and effective cancellation of the first outdoor public holiday break of the year.

Yet it has proved not just possible, but a horrific reality that has knocked us all for six, no matter what our previous health or wealth were. It is an oft-repeated phrase, but we are all in this together.

And how.

Yes, we are all in this together but it is not the same for each and everyone. As some are now starting to observe, those at the lower end of the wealth spectrum are suffering more than others.

Emily Maitliss nailed it in her introduction to Newsnight on Wednesday when she dispelled the myth that coronavirus is a great leveller and pointed out that it does affect the lower-paid disproportionately.

Torbay is not the wealthiest of areas; on the contrary, some areas are among the top 10% poorest in the country. The hospitality industry is not renowned for great rates of pay and we also have an unusually high number of people living in the bay that are living off their state pensions.

Add to them, the shelf stackers, the NHS workers, the social care workers who have all remained on the front line and you have a recipe for inequality as well as a higher chance of infection.

Our own teams that remain in the community, standing in queues, picking up essential foodstuff and life saving medical supplies, are not the highest of paid workers in the bay, but they are still out there.

Along with all the other people already listed here our teams are prepared to put themselves at risk to help get us through this crisis.

Yes, they are given the opportunity to opt out, but when you commit to a caring profession that does not reward with great riches, you are in it for the long haul and that is why they are still out there looking after the communities they care so passionately.

Our social hierarchy is being turned on its head and our lowest paid have proved to be the mainstay upon which we rely – something that we should all take time to reflect on as and when we come out of this crisis.

There is not enough space in this newspaper, let alone this column for me to express the pride I feel in working with our teams, whether they work for us directly, indirectly or alongside.

We are seeing the best that society can offer and thankfully very little of the worst, but we are dealing with the self-isolated on a daily basis, and some are coping well, some not so well and some not at all.

The calls to our helplines – 01803 446022 and 01803 857727, which remain staffed seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm – are getting longer and they are getting more complex.

No longer are a few reassuring words all that is needed, some of what is required is of a far more complicated nature that goes to the root of our mental health and wellbeing.

Some people already had problems, others are now showing issues they never knew they had, and it is to be expected after a few weeks staring at the same four walls without access to a garden or a half decent view.

Money can buy you all these things, along with the space to relax in to enjoy them and for them the biggest threat is boredom. For some this is an enforced holiday to be enjoyed. To others it is an enduring hell that is hard to tolerate.

We don’t know when this will all be over, but when it is, let us not go back to old attitudes and most of all let us not forget what some of the most upon in our society have done for us.

Let us continue to appreciate them, continue to applaud them and remember to thank them – not just once a week on a Thursday night, but in our hearts, where it counts.

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