All of our lives have been turned upside down in the past few weeks. Rightly, we are regularly applauding the efforts of medical staff and other front-line workers as they do the absolutely essential work to keep us safe, healthy, and fed.
The strains on them are obvious, but there are also strains on those who are sitting at home, looking after loved ones, worrying about those they cannot see in person, and maybe anxious about whether they will have a job to go back to at the end of all this.
An MP’s job inevitably changes as well. Most other policy work has to be parked, as all the efforts go into helping people and organisations most affected by the outbreak. Inevitably this means relaying issues affecting the William Harvey, local GPs and pharmacies, and care homes to Ministers, both so that the local position can be improved and to help the national picture.
At the same time I have been helping the absolutely tremendous effort by volunteers to make sure that essential supplies are available to those who are most vulnerable. Bodies like the Ashford Volunteer Centre have been key, and the way the Coronavirus Community Care Ashford Group has sprung up from nothing has been a great tribute to all those involved.
The third leg of my activity has been in helping businesses navigate the various schemes available to see them through the crisis. The grants that Ashford Borough Council has been quick off the mark to distribute will be a lifeline for many of them, and the support provided from central Government through the furlough scheme will be equally vital. An area like ours, without one big dominant employer, is dependent on its small businesses, so the furlough scheme is key in giving us a launch pad for when the crisis is over.
I’m afraid this is going to go on for some time, so thanks to all who are working hard to help their friends and neighbours through extraordinary times. This crisis is terrible, but it is bringing out the best in so many people.