Let’s all support each other through this crisis
I know that many of us will be concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the “social distancing” we will all have to practice over the coming weeks and months. None of us will be alone in any of this. As my party’s spokesperson on housing and local government, I’ve been seeking assurances from the government about plans that can be put in place for anyone who is at greater risk of falling into poverty at this worrying time.
People over 70 or those with underlying medical conditions have been urged to stay at home for the next 12 weeks. I know that this will be daunting, but in spite of the worrying situation we find ourselves in, I’ve been incredibly inspired by how much people want to help their communities through this difficult period. It’s often observed that, in times of crisis, we can see the very best of humanity. Fred Rogers, an American television presenter, famously said that in these worrying times we should “always look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” In the past few days, I’ve been working with volunteers across the Caerphilly area to set up a network to help friends and neighbours who are self-isolating with tasks like shopping and going to the chemist. We have posters that people can put in their window to indicate that they are self-isolating and need help, as well as sign-up sheets for volunteers and guidance. Please get in touch with me if you either want to be involved as a volunteer or would like help from our scheme, my details are at the bottom of this column.
Nationally, I’ve called for a plan to be put in place to both help these fantastic community groups that are being set up all over Wales (so that they have funding to buy food and essential supplies), and also for a helpline to be set up to help those experiencing loneliness. There’s a lot that we can all do to keep in touch over the phone or video calls with relatives, friends and neighbours who are having to change their lives dramatically.
The next few months will have challenges for us all. But these challenges will be even more acute for those who don’t feel safe and secure in their homes. I’ve argued that no one in Wales should face eviction during this period, and that Section 21 of the Housing Act should be suspended to ensure that this doesn’t happen. I’ve also called for rent and council tax relief for people who have to self-isolate and aren’t able to get to work.
Many people living in Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach, Llanbradach and across the borough were affected by the recent flooding. I’ve said that the government has an obligation to bring forward emergency repair work to make their homes habitable again. If this affects you, please get in touch with me.
Urgent plans also need to be put in place to support those who are homeless and victims of domestic violence.
The next few weeks are going to be a very trying period, but none of us are facing it alone. If there’s anything I can do to help or reassure you, please get in touch with me. There are proactive things that many of us can do to help each other. Please take care.
To get in touch, call 0300 200 7138 and leave a message or email email@example.com