Bristol will get through this together
Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire writes for the Voice
HUNDREDS of you have contacted me about the coronavirus crisis, and how it will affect your lives. I am grateful for all your contributions, which I will continue to feed into my work.
First and foremost this is a health emergency, and I am working with colleagues to continue to hold the government to fulfil their promise: that the National Health Service has whatever it needs to beat this virus. I am also challenging the government to come up with measures which will help workers and businesses of all sizes, from freelancers to large corporations.
As I write this, the full extent of the crisis and its ripples are still unknown. What is clear is that effects of this crisis will be felt for many years to come.
Yet Bristol will survive, and the kind, community spirit of our city will live on long after this disease has come and gone.
How people can help
I have been particularly inspired by the many people who have contacted me to ask how they can help their neighbours during this time.
ACORN are running a volunteering scheme, partnering at-risk people with those who are healthy and want to help. You can sign up to volunteer or donate at the ACORN website. If you need help you can also contact them.
Bristol City Council are also putting into place a system in partnership with Can Do Bristol and Quartet to help volunteer and raise funds. They will continually update the Can Do Bristol website with volunteering opportunities where help is needed.
Many other online groups have appeared on forums like Facebook and Whatsapp in the last few weeks with people offering all kinds of help, from food shopping for vulnerable people, to walking someone’s dog, to sharing advice on working from home.
Of course, some of the most vulnerable people may not be online, and this is why many of you have joined with neighbours to put offers of support through their letterboxes. Please continue to look out for each other.
Adapting to the new normal
Bristol is internationally famous for its sense of fun and creativity. Our city is well-known for street parties, music, clubbing and festivals. It is also synonymous with film-making, animation and art. Sadly, many of these activities will be hardest hit by the changes we must make if we are to save lives. But Bristol’s creativity is its strength in these dark times.
Whether it’s pubs and restaurants turning into takeaways or craft shops moving to online selling, I have been impressed by the ingenuity of businesses at this time.
Many others are offering their businesses to the effort to fight this virus. One nightclub owner contacted me to offer their space for the emergency services to use, while a gin distillery in Bristol is using their equipment to make alcohol hand sanitiser.
We will need all these ideas and more. There are difficult times ahead, but I am optimistic. I know that Bristol has the creativity, kindness and ingenuity to come out of this stronger.