LISA NANDY - Thank you to all frontline workers
As we end the year, with the worst excess death rate in Europe and the worst recession of any major economy, it’s clear our region has been particularly badly let down.
The Government ended national lockdown when infection rates were falling in London but not in the North West. Because of this we have seen soaring infection rates, health services under pressure and repeated lockdowns.
We have suffered under the toughest restrictions for longer than almost every other part of the country.
The failure to get a grip on test, trace and isolate has made a terrible situation worse.
In the early days of the pandemic the national system just could not get protective (PPE) equipment to the frontline.
We can be proud that throughout this crisis our local leaders have stepped up where the government has failed, sourcing PPE themselves, setting up local helplines, building extra NHS bed capacity and taking control of contact tracing when the national system failed.
The year has taken its toll. Many of us haven’t hugged family members for nearly six months.
For families with elderly residents in care homes it has been unbearable.
Self-employed and freelance workers have struggled to get any help at all. Meanwhile our businesses were treated terribly when they asked for fair compensation, only to see help made available when other parts of the country had to go into lockdown too.
Despite countless phone calls I made to the Treasury, one major company in Wigan went to the wall with hundreds of jobs lost because help was a week too late in coming.
Thankfully our community has risen to the challenge.
Our teachers, with the support of parents, pioneered online learning to keep education going in lockdown.
Many Wigan schools bought laptops and ipads to lend to children who didn’t have them because the Government was too slow to step in.
Even now, teachers will be working over the Christmas holidays after an incredibly tough year because the Government has dithered over when and how to reopen schools.
When the Prime Minister refused to give children free school meals during the school holidays local charities, businesses and the council stepped up.
It was incredible to see the outpouring of generosity and warmth from pubs, cafes and restaurants across Wigan even as they struggled themselves. This pandemic may have brought us the worst of times, but it has brought out the best in our community.
With the first Wigan resident receiving the vaccine this week, hope is on the horizon.
It was a privilege to meet with the British scientists who worked with others across the world to pioneer it, and to hear how robust the safety standards have been.
As we move into 2021 my biggest Christmas wish is for a Government that learns from a wasted year.
Let’s have an end to the billions of pounds of contracts handed out to friends of Tory MPs and instead trust local public health leaders to deliver.
Let’s see an end to the algorithms which determined the fate of our young people this summer and put in place the support and resources schools need to get our young people the qualifications they deserve.
Most of all, let’s end the arrogance and contempt shown towards our region from national government and see fair funding for our schools, businesses and NHS.
Our country this year has shown it is better than its Government. Let’s hope next year the Government raises its game.
In the meantime, to everyone who has lost someone this year, you are in my thoughts.
If we have learned anything from this pandemic it is that we are only as strong as each other.
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers ...