Like so many of our residents, lockdown has been a bitter-sweet experience, and incredibly challenging in so many ways and on so many levels.
There have been good things; seeing more of my husband, and seeing him when he is not jet-lagged and exhausted from endless business travel, chatting to my children and catching up with friends. But there is always a cloud on the horizon – one son is taking his finals (remotely from home) what are the prospects for him and his generation?
Another son has his own business, will it survive, will it prosper? His girlfriend is a newly qualified doctor, is she okay?
When can I see my 93 year old mother again – she lives just ten minutes away, but I dare not visit her in case I come with a cloak of Covid and don’t yet know. But when I do get to see her, I worry that she will no longer recognise me as she has advanced dementia.
Hopefully these things will become clearer in the coming weeks, as we look to ease the lockdown. But many people in our communities will continue to share these concerns for their children and concern for their parents for months to come. And they worry about themselves, about jobs, about money, about getting by and hanging on in until better times come – as they surely will.
The flip side to this is that people, whatever their circumstances, are out to help each other whether through simple things like keeping in touch on the phone, or picking up groceries, or popping to the chemist.
And this spirit of community has swept through the Council I lead too, with librarians now acting as registrars, those in debt recovery now helping to organise food drops, and everyone up for re-training and redeploying wherever they can help the most.
When on Thursdays, I join my neighbours on the doorstep to clap for the NHS, I am clapping too for Council workers, social workers, street sweepers and everyone else in local government who is keeping the show on the road.
And they are not just keeping the same show on the road – I marvel at how we have adapted our services to tackle new challenges. Take the team offering short breaks for children with disabilities, for example.
Our two centres are open but obviously we can have less children at any one time given social distancing rules. So staff have been calling families to ask how they can best help – whether it is providing sensory toys for children to use at home, or helping fund extra care, or offering a sympathetic and yet professional ear.
The same goes for our call centre. They know that they are a lifeline for people who are sometimes at the end of their tether or have nowhere else to turn.
It is not about just answering a call, it is about really caring that person on the end of the line and making sure that you help. And it about making sure that no one slips through the net.
Councils are doing all they can right now, including my own, and I am proud to see a collective effort between all the boroughs across London as we continue to tackle this pandemic and in the long-term overcome it.