By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
OUR Community Builders are now back to doing what they do best – helping organise events that bring communities together.
So many things that were forced online during the lockdowns are back, where they belong, in halls and community centres across the Bay, allowing people to mingle again – as much or as little as they like.
As is so often the case over the last 18 months, all good news has to be tempered with a cautionary note, and as the figures again begin to rise, none of us truly know what the winter is going to bring.
Social diaries across the Bay are filling up with everything from exercise classes to coffee mornings, from film showings to walks and from lunch clubs to art exhibitions; there really is something for everybody.
Until the last couple of weeks, we have been relatively lucky with the weather allowing numerous events to be flexible and to take place outdoors if necessary, but the weather is closing in, which means going back behind the closed doors with all the necessary precautions.
It is no consolation that whilst COVID rates are rising in nearly 90% of areas across the country, the increases here are lower. And we can take solace from a falling death rate as a result of the vaccines, which are now being topped up with a third booster jab at the vaccination centres in Torquay and Brixham.
Our volunteer marshals are working flat out to ensure a smooth flow through the vaccination centres with a steady flow of appointments and walk-ins arriving throughout the day from 8:30 in the morning until six at night.
New infections – the majority amongst the young – are running at their highest levels since mid-July. Here in the Bay, we now have 438 per one hundred thousand people compared to the national average of 484 per one hundred thousand.
It is also interesting to note that vaccination rates are now being recorded as a percentage of the population over the age of 12 compared to the usual adult population, which indicates where the focus now is.
An infected youngster, in the majority of cases, might not suffer severe symptoms, but the problem comes when they pass that virus to their older parents, and even more risky, grandparents.
COVID vaccinations alongside flu jabs are no guarantee against coronavirus. Still, if you are unlucky enough to contract it, the symptoms will be less severe in the vast majority of cases, and the chances of hospitalisation are greatly reduced.
Hospitals, including our own here in Torbay, are already creaking under the strain of not just coronavirus, but a huge backlog of cases accompanied by an increasing number of the usual winter related cases. It is in all our interests to ensure that burden is not increased.
We have all enjoyed our rediscovered freedoms, but if they are to continue, chances are we are going to have to rein it to some extent, masks remain advisable, particularly in enclosed spaces; handwashing can prevent not just this virus but a whole host of illnesses, and social distancing remains a sensible precaution.
For our part, we will continue to help run events, because we know their true value to so many people who might not see anyone else to socialise for days and weeks at a time. Until common sense says otherwise and we are forced back online.
But we hope upon hope that that day will not come, not least in part because of the collective resilience and fortitude of our communities across the Bay, that have not shied away from taking a sensible approach before on behalf of their neighbours, friends and relatives.
We are constantly reviewing our procedures for indoor events and working on the checks and balances that are essential to keeping them as safe as possible for everyone.
Loneliness can in itself be debilitating, as has been shown during the last three lockdowns, and we must constantly weigh up the needs of keeping people from slipping into isolation against the risk of bringing people together.
If you want to know more about what is happening in your area of the Bay, check on the Torbay Together website, or contact your Community Builder. If you don’t know who it is, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you need support of any kind, then do ring the Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022.