Herald Column: May 14

I have given my take on the Prime Minister’s announcement about the gradual relaxation of lockdown restrictions in my weekly constituency video and on social media. Though there has been some criticism about the apparent softening of the message ‘Stay Alert’ as opposed to ‘Stay at Home,’ the approach is perfectly clear. We have made great progress in curtailing the spread of the virus because the vast majority of people abided by the guidance. If we now need to extend the restrictions for longer then we can make them more flexible by trusting the public to use their own common sense.

Hence, more people are being encouraged to go back to work where it is safe to do so, and we are all being encouraged to extend our recreation outdoors including meeting another family member or friend one at a time. That includes going fishing or visiting garden centres which will be the most popular going by my emails. But we should only do it if we can continue to observe social distancing and avoid congregating in confined spaces.

It shouldn’t require a highly proscriptive Government diktat for the great majority of us to act like responsible adults. If we do, then the next phase of opening up schools, pubs and most crucially for some of us hairdressers, can proceed sooner rather than later.

Last week we celebrated VE Day and paid tribute to some remarkable veterans, albeit largely virtually. Every week we rightly pay tribute to the many NHS and care workers looking out for us so heroically. This week I want to recognise formally those many unsung volunteers who have stepped up to the mark unprompted during this crisis and done their bit for others in the community. It may be those doing shopping and prescription runs for vulnerable people; helping provide PPE and meals for frontline workers or distributing urgent supplies. It may be an organisation or firm rather than just an individual.

Anyone living or volunteering in the East Worthing & Shoreham constituency qualifies and I am asking everyone to nominate those volunteers they think should be recognised by emailing me at loughtont@parliament.uk I have asked councillors to help promote the scheme too.

We will then present a certificate to those nominees who fit the bill and publish a ‘roll of honour.’ Ultimately when it is safe to do so I would like to be able to hold an appropriate celebration event as well. So, if you know of someone who you think deserves to be recognised as a ‘Coronavirus Community Champion please send me their details, contact information and a brief summary of what they have done. Hopefully the Herald will help celebrate our local champions too.