May 1, 2020
Home is where the heart is. There’s no place like it.
But as much as we love it, we’re now all facing a global health crisis, which means we need to stay there to save lives.
It sounds a simple ask, but we’re finding it’s not easy. I hope by the time this is published, the situation has improved greatly, but right now it’s hugely important to stay home to counter the spread of this destructive virus.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard first-hand the pressure COVID-19 is causing to so many of our vital local charities. They face difficulty in terms of funding and ability to deliver their services and that could have a huge impact on our most vulnerable.
That’s why I decided to create a £200,000 Coronavirus Response Fund.
This was made available to help local voluntary organisations adapt and continue their vital work.
It is there to sustain crucial community projects – helping those in need and supporting the work of Northumbria Police – and, just as importantly, it is there to help make sure these organisations are still with us on the other side.
One group of people for whom COVID-19 is a day-to-day struggle is those suffering domestic abuse.
Sadly, for many, lockdown makes them more vulnerable and trapped than ever. So I want to urge anyone suffering to seek help.
Please don’t feel like you have to wait until the coronavirus crisis passes to seek help – you don’t.
We have fantastic support organisations throughout the North East who we are working closely with and who can fully support you. And, as always, if you are at immediate risk, please call 999.
If you are in danger because of the call, key in 55. And look out and listen for friends and
neighbours in need.
An anonymous call to Crimestoppers or the police could rescue someone from a living nightmare.
There is more than one way, at this time of heightened community spirit, to support and care for one another.
Another group similarly impacted is children, who are suffering without school and the support and stability it brings.
School can be a place to escape from abuse and neglect at home. Youth provision has never been more needed, but lockdown constraints are making it even harder to reach those who need to be reached.
It’s a similar story for our rural communities, who often feel isolated at the best of times, and, of course, healthcare is often miles away for many rural areas that have older, more vulnerable populations.
I also know of teachers worried about the gap in provisions for rural pupils, and members of the LGBT+ community being forced to live in family homes where their sexuality isn’t welcome.
These are all great concerns and it is at times like these that we’re grateful for the technology that, for those who have access, can literally be a lifesaver.
With all this in mind, it is of little surprise that we have been inundated with applications from such worthwhile and innovative projects run by people wanting to help those in need, and we will be allocating funding in the coming weeks.
I really hope that together we can make a positive difference, in some small way, to the lives of many who are suffering.
This leads me onto another group of people who are making a positive difference.
It’s not an easy time for our police officers and staff on the frontline and I’m incredibly proud of them all.
They have risen to this challenge, are working round-the-clock and yet for many their own home life has become filled with worry and disruption. They can’t choose to work from home and keep their family safe. They know the risks but with true commitment to their job, duty calls and they respond.
These, along with NHS and frontline healthcare workers and the other key workers getting us through every day, are truly remarkable people.
So, to everyone doing their bit, from our frontline heroes to our dedicated volunteers and to everyone in between staying at home to save lives, thank you.