Message of light and hope in a world that’s rapidly changing before us

The Bishop of Norwich has suggested we all light a candle in our windows at 7pm on Sunday

The Bishop of Norwich has suggested we all light a candle in our windows at 7pm on Sunday - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Lady Dannatt MBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk salutes the communities pulling together in this time of global crisis

The Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, The Lady Dannatt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, The Lady Dannatt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

This coronavirus pandemic is truly a global, national and local challenge to us all. Every one of us, as individuals, has to work out how we rise to that challenge – the challenge of our generation.

From watching the news and reading our local papers, I am already in awe when I see and hear about the wonderful response of people across Norfolk. We remain incredibly grateful for the selfless commitment of our NHS staff in hospitals, surgeries, pharmacies and call centres alike. All our emergency services, ambulance, fire and rescue and the police continue to provide an extraordinary service across the county, and now our armed forces might be involved too.

But it isn’t just all those I have mentioned above who deserve the plaudits. It is the wonderful lady in the supermarket who never fails to greet a customer with a smile and ‘how are you today?’ It is the young in our communities who are knocking on every door, fetching shopping, prescriptions and checking up on their older neighbours over the fence. It is the unknown shopper, who overheard a gentleman asking for a pack of mince. There was none left on the shelves, so she followed him out of the shop, insisting he took one of hers, at no cost.

My concern, as ever, is for those who fall between the cracks. Foodbanks are desperately needing donations – and volunteers to sort goods out and deliver them. Some of our elderly are so scared, they are facing a wall of fear, and some are giving up... and dying as a result. And it is not just the elderly in our community who need our help. The immigrant and ethnic minority communities can be invisible and often live in deep fear. And now with our schools closing indefinitely, we have families facing the stresses of children at home, possibly for months on end. Sadly, we can anticipate steep rises in domestic violence. And in fraud.

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This is a critical issue. There will be criminals out there feigning as ‘helpful neighbours’. Please never give a person your bank card or your PIN number unless you know and trust them absolutely.

And if you need urgent help, advice or support, your local councils are there for you 100 per cent. Keep looking at your local council’s website. There is so much good information there. Already our council leaders are thinking outside the box. Could school kitchens be used to cook meals for the vulnerable at home? Might taxi drivers be employed to deliver these meals? How can we use our skilled workforce in different capacities? New challenges demand new solutions. We can all be inventive.

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But among the gloom, there must be hope – hope of better times to come back. Light brings hope, so why don’t we all take up the Bishop of Norwich’s suggestion to put a candle in our front windows at 7pm this coming Sunday? Light conquers darkness and those candles can be a sure sign of hope.

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