Making sense of the rule of six

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

The coronavirus crisis continues to challenge us all and organisations, businesses, schools and individuals, struggle to keep up with the latest advice.

Just when you thought it was safe to meet in larger numbers, the virus spiked and we have been sent back to the drawing board when it comes to organising social get togethers.

Picking a country to holiday in, other than here in the UK, is a guessing game which popular destinations being added and removed from the approved list on a weekly basis, but that is proving to be an advantage for the Torbay as staycationers flock here.

For some a feeling of relative normality was returning to their lives as more people are urged to return to the workplace, children to go back to school and students to travel to their universities.

Pubs and restaurants remain open as do places of worship, but the rules within them have been tightened to allow a maximum of groups of six to socialise with nothing allowed over and above that.

Thankfully here in the Bay the number of cases is running at less than a third of the national average at six cases per 100,000 people, compared to 18 per 100,000 for England as whole, but we must remain vigilant to ensure it stays that way.

As with all these things in an ever changing landscape, the rules whilst simple in theory – hands, face and space, trips off the tongue, but interpreting those rules is fraught with difficulty and as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail.

For many of the people that we have been in touch with, the advice has to be to remain cautious at all times and follow the rule of six regardless of the setting be that in exercise classes, out and about or in your own home.

For our own part, we have endeavoured to keep ahead of the curve, to allow us to answer pressing questions from those most at risk during this crisis and it is clear that some people who were beginning to venture out have gone back behind closed doors.

Shielded people who at last felt able to begin socialising and visiting others have taken their own counsel and have chosen to remain at a distance and it is those people that we continue to help through the Torbay Community Helpline.

Just short of 4,000 people have now contacted us on 01803 446022 – some to volunteer to help others, some to ask for help with lot of things from shopping to prescriptions, and we expect those calls to continue and in the light of the latest guidance to increase.

We have had to roll back tentative plans to have more people socialising face to face whether that be indoors or outdoors and we are mindful that whatever we do organise have to be in groups of no more than six.

That will mean that there is once again an increased risk of some people, particularly the vulnerable who do not have their own support network of family and friends becoming more isolated.

Mental health and wellbeing at this time is as important now as it ever was and everyone is encouraged to think through how the continuing changes might impact on your day to day life.

Contact with other people remains very important and maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. If you can’t meet in person, think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.

Our volunteers continue to befriend those who are lonely and the Torbay Community Helpline remains available for anyone who needs it and its work has been recognised with a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to sustain it and to develop it going forward.

All our partners – Brixham Does Care, Age UK Torbay, Healthwatch Torbay,  Citizen’s Advice Torbay and many others remain on board to help combat loneliness, ensure no-one goes without food or medicines and offering help with mental health issues.

We are in it for the long haul and are prepared to meet whatever this virus throws at us. Make a note of the number – 01803 446022, you never know when you might need it.

But it is also important that we all continue to look out for each other be that neighbours, friends or relatives. We have come this far and the community in the Bay is stronger for it.