A resilient bay full of dedicated people

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

We knew this new lockdown was going to be tough for some people, and so it is proving to be. That steely resolve, which came with lockdown one, has been severely tested this time around – when will it ever end?

None of us has the answer, and that is at the core of many people’s thinking as we enter week three of this ongoing nightmare. But we must remain strong, because no matter what rules and regulations are brought into play – as they must be – responsibility lies with each and every one of us.

It is becoming something of a cliché but we are all in this together and we are relying on each other to get us through this difficult time.

Here in Torbay – the strength of our communities, the 1,000 plus volunteers who have come forward, the good neighbours, fine friends and caring relatives who have rallied time and again, give us all hope. As we endure this new phase we also know that vaccinations are being rolled out in their thousands at the Riviera Centre in Torquay. More, we are promised, are heading our way soon.

Now is not the time to take our eyes off the golden goal of a return to normality, where we can, once again, go out unhindered, see friends, greet relatives and not be afraid of strangers.

We will get there and that is why, as calls increase to the Helpline from people suffering through no fault of their own, we must dig ever deeper to help each other, now and in the future.

When we asked for more volunteers, we were inundated with offers of help – hundreds of you offering to marshal arrivals at the vaccination centre, to help chaperone people inside and to return to the essentials of food delivery, prescription collections and telephone befriending.

Already many of those volunteers are doing just that, which is just as well because calls to the Helpline have more than doubled compared to last month and 300 new people have joined the 4,000 we have already helped in some way over the past ten months.

Numbers of confirmed cases have been climbing, but hopefully peaking, although  the number of people hospitalised  in Torbay  remains  among the lowest in the country. It was heartening when I joined a zoom with Dr Joanne Watson, System Medical Director of Torbay Hospital, last week to hear that morale among the hard pushed stuff remains high.

On the same call, though, I was perturbed to learn that some people have still not heard about the Helpline. Please help spread the word whenever you can – the number is 01803 446022, and we are open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings from 9:30am to 12:30pm.

Both Joanne and I used different versions of the same words to express our gratitude to teams of, and I do not use the word lightly, heroes, who are working harder than they have ever worked for longer than they have ever worked.

For me it was about the staff of numerous charities and organisations and volunteers doing all they can, and for her the NHS staff, from the cleaners to the consultants – all of whom have found themselves on the frontline – collectively called the key workers.

I came off the call in tears, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all – relief? gratitude? pride? All those things, but also with a renewed resolve to do whatever it takes to get through this.

So now might be a good time to remember the latest Government guidance, which is not to go out unless you really have to and, if you do, act as if you are already infected with COVID.

In three words, HANDS, FACE, SPACE – keep washing your hands, wear a face covering at all times when out of the house if possible and give people lots of space when out and about, a minimum of two metres.

Do not see people from outside your bubble – not even outside, unless you are exercising together and do not visit one another’s homes.

Hopefully, we are in the final phase of this dreadful crisis, and once again we must all rely on each other to come out the other side. We have endured a great deal, but the end is potentially in sight.

Again that number is 01803 446022, if you need help or want to offer help. Or go to bit.ly/torbayhelpline