By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
ANOTHER week and another set of rules to live by in the battle against COVID-19.
It is now an incredible 37 weeks since we first put up the shutters and entered our first lockdown on March 16th and it feels like the rules have changed every few weeks since.
Thankfully in Torbay, we now seem to be winning the fight again after a disastrous run of results that showed that some areas of the Bay coronavirus cases were among the highest in the South West.
But as we come out of Lockdown 2 our figures are around two-thirds of the national average, but our new classification as Tier Two gives no cause for complacency and to keep the figures down in the run-up to Christmas we all need to be careful.
Too many people have now been affected directly by this dreadful virus, and even if they have not contracted it themselves, nearly everyone in the Bay now knows someone who has had it.
Mercifully most who have contracted the virus do survive, but that cannot be said of all and just short of 90 people will not be seeing in the New Year. Whatever we choose to do over the next few weeks, we need to remember that.
The effects of this pandemic are also showing themselves in other ways with huge swathes of the economy, and by default, the people who work in it, suffering badly.
Several reports have been published that show only too clearly that it is the poorest, the most vulnerable and the oldest who are taking the brunt.
Ageing Well Torbay has been working with people over the age of 50 for more than five years and we know only too well the devastating effects that loneliness and isolation can have on individuals in our community.
Having worked hard to overcome that, we are again seeing the effects in people that are self isolating, either through choice or through necessity brought on by an existing health condition.
Nationally we are being warned that already life expectancy is falling and the number of years that we will live without a disability is going backwards – and that was before virus wreaked havoc.
We are also seeing that inequalities in health and wellbeing are widening as a result of coronavirus, a fact that is not going to be helped by the number of over 50’s becoming unemployed since March, doubling.
That means, as if we did not have enough problems with poverty in Torbay before all this, that people struggling to find work as they approach retirement is going to lead to the very real prospect of pensioner poverty.
The effects unchecked and unchallenged could be dreadful for us all as we know that people on low incomes are likely to end up living with three or more long term health conditions.
Or put another way, the poorest people will die younger and will suffer poor health for longer.
We already know that around 50% of the population in the Bay are over the age of 50 – which is way above the national average and presents us with some tough challenges.
But we also know that stronger communities, as have been demonstrated since this pandemic arrived in our towns, can help people who are struggling.
The hundreds of volunteers that came forward during the first lockdown showed the strength of our communities and the 60 or so good neighbour schemes that have been set up since then are continuing to make sure that we all look out for each other at a very local level.
Strong communities have never been more needed because even as restrictions are eased, we need to continue to be vigilant – vigilant for ourselves, vigilant for our friends and vigilant for our neighbours.
We got our figures down by acting collectively and if we are to keep them down then we must remain aware of the effects our actions could have on a large part of the Bay’s population
The rules will change again, and we need to make sure we are listening to the right people and for that you could do no better than find one of the Torbay Council COVID Community Champions – if you want to know more and sign up at www.torbay.gov.uk/covid-champions.
You can also make sure you have the right information For all volunteering opportunities, ring the Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022.