Talking to friends and family over the phone this week, I’m hearing happy accounts of how good it feels to be finally getting back to ‘some kind of normal.’
Meals out, trips to the seaside or just getting together for a coffee; all things we used to just take for granted.
During the halcyon days when ‘furlough’ and ‘bubbling’ were not recognisable chit chat, who could have predicted that wearing masks indoors, hand sanitising and social distancing would feature as ‘some kind of normal’?
As humans we are designed to adapt, and we have, but at great cost. The world is collectively and individually still living through a titanic trauma and Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact. However, despite all the challenges it has given us, it has thankfully brought with it a sense of connectivity.
Much has triumphed during this time of disaster. It was humbling to see thousands of people step forward at the beginning of the pandemic and volunteer their time to help others. There has also been renewed respect for the thousands of key workers who enable our country to keep going and a huge appreciation for our neighbours who continue to support one another.
Sunday (July 4) marks the first national ‘Thank You Day.’ It will be 24 hours when the nation pauses to say thank you to each other.
The day is designed to acknowledge and thank all the key workers, staff, patients, service users, carers, volunteers, educators, students, and the people in our communities who have stepped up to offer help and support to others over the past 15 months. The idea was proposed by a small group of people from across the UK including May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the UK’s first Covid-19 vaccination jab in Coventry in December 2020.
It is now supported by hundreds of organisations and businesses across the country, ranging from the Scouts and Guides to Rotary and the Royal Voluntary Service, The Mirror, The Sun, the Football Association and the Church of England, as well as celebrities, religious leaders and sports stars.
There is not a strict plan for Thank You Day, so people are encouraged to celebrate it however they want and to thank whoever they want to. For me, it’s a chance to say out loud a big thank you to all my amazing colleagues working in Public Health, the NHS, social care, and wider public services.
This has been the toughest year of our professional careers, and you have all worked so hard to understand and contain the virus, to treat all the sick patients who came through the doors and deliver the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history, and keep key non-Covid related services going in the background.
I’d like to thank the incredible volunteers who gave up their time to support those in their communities who needed help, the school teams who looked after our children, shop staff, transport and delivery workers, and everyone else who has helped to keep us and the county going. I want to thank all of you, the wonderful residents of Northamptonshire who have followed lockdown restrictions at great personal sacrifice.
Whoever you want to thank on Sunday, please join us with your friends, neighbours and communities by taking part in the country’s first-ever National Thank You Day on the 4th of July and let’s say thank you together.
In the meantime, we all know that although Northamptonshire is fairing relatively well, it's not over yet. We must keep on doing everything within our power to prevent further transmission and keep our case rates down.
■ Getting fully vaccinated is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities against coronavirus, so it’s vital that everyone who is eligible should come forward for both vaccines as soon as they are invited.
■ Please be careful when mixing with each other. When you are outside and physically distanced from each other, the particles containing the virus that causes Covid-19 are blown away which makes it less likely that they will be breathed in by another person but it is still important to keep a safe distance from people you don’t live with. If you do meet inside, also keep your distance and make sure the space is well ventilated.
■ If you are going to the cinema, out for the day or evening, meeting a group of friends and family or playing a team sport, you need to take a lateral flow test beforehand. We are all still in this together, so we need to get tested twice a week and not let each other down. If we leave the house and mix with others, then we need to make sure we are not unwittingly spreading the virus.
I’m confident that if we all continue as we have for the past 15 months as a county, and as a community, then we have a fighting chance of preventing more illness, hospitalisation and loss of loved ones.
In the meantime; three cheers for each and every one of you! Thank you, residents of Northamptonshire, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!