The action needed in Norfolk and Suffolk to reduce long-term damage of Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 12:18 21 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:47 21 July 2020

Young people from the Youth Advisory Board at the Mancroft Advice Project. Will the charity's services be needed even more post-covid? This picture was taken before the pandemic. Pic: Mancroft Advice Project.

Young people from the Youth Advisory Board at the Mancroft Advice Project. Will the charity's services be needed even more post-covid? This picture was taken before the pandemic. Pic: Mancroft Advice Project.

Mancroft Advice Project

Editor David Powles looks at what might be next if Norfolk and Suffolk is to reduce the negative impact of the coronavirus.

So what do we do now?

Hopefully, we’re starting to emerge from this terrible pandemic and all of the current precautions will have the desired affect and help to avoid a dreaded second spike. Of course there are plenty who think a new wave of outbreaks is inevitable.

But, even if we do manage to get through the next few months relatively unscathed, as far as society is concerned I’m afraid it’s very much a case of ‘the hard work starts here’.

Many of the feared societal consequences of Covid-19 are well-known and as likely to hit this region as they are anywhere else. They include increased joblessness and therefore possibly even more homeless on the street, a widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots, with worsening deprivation in those areas already struggling, and much fewer opportunities for young people.

Those charities and not-for-profit organisations that already do so much for so many will face the double whammy of falling income and increased demand. Our local councils, meanwhile, are likely to need to futher cut their cloth, no doubt further impacting their already diminished ability to pick up the pieces for those who need help.

Of course all of this comes with the subsequent impact on things like mental and physical health.

I hate to be morbid in these tough times but, after the storm passes, we’re potentially facing yet another storm. And if we do nothing, the damage will be severe.

Doing nothing, therefore, is not an option if we are to reduce the long-term damage of the pandemic on East Anglia.

And that was the feeling of a group of Norfolk figures who came together last week to discuss in a webinar hosted by this newspaper some of the concrete actions that could be carried out in this region to try and ensure that if we cannot stop the storm from arriving, we can at least make sure our house is well-protected.

Under the title ‘A return of hope, opportunity and prosperity - what next for Norfolk?’, the group is currently made up of people from all walks of life in the region. It includes business leaders, charity bosses, education chiefs and an MP and a councillor.

All of those present have the same desire to find some constructive ways out of this and all of those realise that we can’t simply wait for the state to pick up the pieces. The state will have too much on its plate to take a microscopic look at what needs to be done at a local level.

Therefore, it’s time we took control of our own fortunes. Rather than all of us simply aim to sort out the potential mess in our own particular areas of life and work, those of us able to do so need to think about what we can do to better prospects for our community as a whole.

That could be something you do as an individual, like decide that as an individual you will devote some of your time to helping a local charity, or something linked to whom you work for, such as trying to ensure that, whatever the financial pressure Covid-19 has put on the company you work for, it will still commit to bringing in a certain number of apprentices or providing a certain number of paid internships so there are still opportunities for young people in the area.

The key is action. This cannot be a talking shop of people with kind-hearts and good ideals, but ultimately unable to see them through.

If this region can find an army of people willing to act, then the chances are this storm will pass and we shall come through it in a much stronger position.

What can you do to help?

* It’s very early days so watch this space over the next few weeks for more on this and how you might be able to get involved.

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