A silver lining?

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

It is sometimes hard to see it through the noise that coronavirus inevitably creates, but there is a lot of good news around at the moment.

Infection rates are falling across the Bay, due in no small part to the actions each and every one of you have taken to halt the spread. So much so that we once again have some of the lowest number of cases in the country.

However, we, of course, need to stay vigilant. How many times in the last ten months have we hoped that falling figures signified the end, only for yet another blip to come along and cloud the sunny horizon?

But we do have vaccines being rolled out by the thousand Torbay Hospital and at the Riviera Centre in Torquay and we are told that supplies of alternative vaccines, that do not require the taxing storage conditions of the Pfizer option, are just around the corner.

Late last week we also learned that a completely new vaccine is being produced that is not just 89% effective, it has also been proven to be effective against the newer strains of the virus.

Torbay Hospital is, we are told, coping well and staff morale remains high as they continue to treat the worst, although thankfully few, cases whilst working in tandem with the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter to ensure non-COVID treatments continue.

GPs’ surgeries continue to organise and mobilise to ensure that there is a steady flow of vaccine recipients arriving at the vaccine centre, whilst managing to deal with an endless stream of calls back at the surgery.

One hundred and forty seven volunteers are working side by side with NHS staff at the Riviera Centre to ensure the operations run smoothly , and maintaining a steady and efficient flow in and out.

We have another two hundred plus volunteers waiting in the wings ready to take their place on shifts that not only marshal arrivals, but chaperone people as they pass through reception.

We have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown by the people of Torbay and have been delighted by the response to the many appeals we have made for extra help, each appeal never failing to set the Helpline phones alight with offers.

We asked for your help with delivering prescriptions and collecting shopping and you rose to the challenge. We asked for your help calling people who were otherwise lonely and isolated and lend a friendly, caring ear.

More recently we appealed for help with specialist befrienders and again you came forward to offer counselling and expertise to tackle the rising number of instances of people whose mental health is suffering.

Each time we have asked for money or donations for the foodbanks, they have arrived almost immediately, and the Torbay Food Alliance is now providing more than 10,000 meals a week.

You organised yourselves into Good Neighbour Schemes to support each other with check-ins, phone calls and running errands for each other and there are now nearly 70 such groups across the Bay.

To date an incredible 1,300 people have offered their services at various points during the ten-month long crisis – that is a phenomenal one in 100 of Torbay’s population.

Way back in the dim and distant past that was Lockdown One we coined the phrase #TorbayKind, but even that does not really go far enough – though I am struggling to find the words that cover this level of generosity.

We have said thank you many times, but it can never be enough, though we will continue to say as often as we can.

If you have ever doubted the strength and resilience of the communities in this Bay, put it aside, you are very lucky to live here whether here is in Torquay, Brixham or Paignton.

Your neighbours are your friends, your new acquaintances are your support network and the many staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly and unselfishly for the last 317 days are your safety net.

Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you.

The helpline is available from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Friday, and from 9:30am to 12:30pm on Saturday’s on 01803 446022. Or use the online form: bit.ly/torbayhelpline