We now have a ‘route map’ out of lockdown and although many of us may regard it as overly cautious it is encouraging that it is described as irreversible. One of the most damaging things for our businesses has been the uncertainty caused by the stop/start approach to lockdown making planning almost impossible.
I particularly welcome the news that all schools will be returning on March 8th and school sport will resume. By March 8th our children will have lost 840m days of face to face schooling: 1 in 6 is said to be suffering form some form of mental health problem and the proportion taking at least an hour of exercise every day has dropped from 47% to just 19%. And this on top of the widening academic attainment gap.
It is also welcome that relatives will at last be allowed limited access to loved ones in care homes, a particularly cruel aspect of the pandemic. Less welcome is the news that even pub gardens will not be open for the Easter weekend and we still have another 7 weeks to wait for a haircut. In desperation I am considering a man bun.
This week we are launching the appeal for the St John Ambulance Hall in Southwick that I flagged up before Christmas. Some of our national charities have been the big casualties of lockdown unable to fundraise or provide services to events. St John Ambulance is one of the organisations we always see in the background looking out for us and has been since 1877 but it takes a lot of money to run their network and except for Government grants that has dried up in the last year. Yet their volunteers are busier than ever supporting the NHS during the pandemic.
In Sussex they have given over 13,500 volunteer hours to work at local hospitals, backed up the ambulance service and crucially are training people to be vaccinators at the Amex every weekend, and are jabbing people themselves at the Brighton Centre. But nationally they are having to cut their costs drastically, as part of which they are looking to close 115 of their properties. The Southwick HQ would be one of them but we have managed to negotiate a reprieve. The catch is that the hall needs £55,000 spent on it to repair the roof and we need to have raised this by the end of the year. There are also exciting plans to open the hall up for more use by other local community groups as well.
The good news is that we have pledges for £18,000 already, so who is up for helping us rise the outstanding £37,000? Anyone with any offers of help, ideas for fundraising, pledges of funds please do get in touch with me. There is a video and further details on my website and Facebook page.