Blog: Capturing the VE Day spirit

Despite all the difficulties we face due to the pandemic, I believe there are reasons to be optimistic about the future; certainly in the long-term. And I’m not in any way attempting to ignore the tragic situation facing many people who have lost loved ones – their pain must be immense.

One of the key explanations for my optimism is down to Suffolk’s excellent track record of joint-working and I see no reason why this approach cannot be continued and improved by all of us.

The recent adjustments to the government’s advice concerning the lockdown provide hope for the whole country; the infection level has peaked, but of course common sense and great care is still required during the long path back to some sense of normality returning to our lives. The messages remains the same – work at home if you can, carry on observing social distancing and wash your hands. That’s what my team is doing and I’m doing at home.

Since the lockdown started, we’ve all heard of many instances of great kindness and compassion. At a meeting – virtual of course – it was so pleasing to hear how a village had come together and individuals have met others online and virtually every single household has signed up to the parish newsletter. These acts are worth their weight in gold and deserve thanks from us all.

I think a powerful new feeling of community identity and purpose is taking root across the county. Individuals are looking out for each other and willingly helping those in need whatever their circumstances – in some ways it is rather akin to life in a village I experienced in Suffolk when I was a lad! There has even been some limited discussion on what to do to mark the occasion when the virus has been defeated. This is particularly welcome as it provides hope and something to look forward to.

There’s still a huge effort being mobilised to tackle the pandemic from charities to youth groups and from emergency services to business. I’ve been in an elected role in Suffolk for over seventeen years now and have never come across such a successful multi-agency approach.

It has been difficult to establish testing centres, supplying the right quantities and design of personal protective equipment to all those who need it but everyone, including the military is pulling out all the stops to get things done. Our police officers continue to do a great job to help ensure the lockdown is as effective as possible and their job has been greatly assisted as the vast majority of people are using their common sense.

Many of us are turning our thoughts to recovery plans and what the future delivery of services and the working environment might be. This crisis has presented an opportunity to look at reform and improvement, supported by this development of closer working relationships in Suffolk.

The pandemic has shown how we can work much better together. We can share more of our facilities, develop further our use of technology and pool other resources such as people and money. This will be complicated, but I think it’s essential as demand for public services will probably increase and we can meet this challenge head on through reform and improved productivity.

The generosity of Suffolk people is one of our great assets which is why I’ve every confidence after this emergency is over we will work together to build a great future for all of us in Suffolk.

Victory in Europe Day reminded all of us how we overcame great difficulty in the past so we know we can and will do it again. #StickWithItSuffolk

Published in the Bury Free Press May 2020