The coronavirus pandemic is a national and global challenge, but it is also bringing out the best in our community across North East Cambs

PUBLISHED: 14:06 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 04 April 2020

"To everyone locally who has stepped up to help at this time – I want to thank you for all you are doing. We face very difficult weeks ahead" - Steve Barclay MP. Pictures; ARCHANT


“Unprecedented” is a word that has been frequently used during the past few weeks.

"To everyone locally who has stepped up to help at this time – I want to thank you for all you are doing. We face very difficult weeks ahead" - Steve Barclay MP. Pictures; ARCHANT

Nonetheless, it is perhaps still the best description of what we in North East Cambridgeshire, and so many others around the world, are currently living through in the face of this global health pandemic.

Our daily lives have been upended. Most local children are unable to go to school, our most vulnerable neighbours have been asked to shield themselves and not leave home, jobs have been lost and local businesses faced with devastating closures.

In addition, our public services, including the NHS and care sector, are dealing with a surge in cases.

Yet amidst the worry and hardship, we are also seeing local resilience.

Community spirit can be found in the local gin distillery re-purposing their operations to produce hand sanitiser. Innovation is evident in the restaurant businesses quickly adapting to offer takeaway or crucial grocery orders via email.

And above all, kindness can be found in the many stories in our local press of people of all ages helping their neighbours. This community spirit has been illustrated more widely by the unprecedented response to the Government’s call for volunteers to support our NHS.

As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, I have been working throughout with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and with Ministers across the Government to ensure we put in place support for businesses, individuals and our public services. Even so, the operational complexity of so many major financial interventions in such a short space of time has meant many businesses have still been severely impacted, and work continues on the delivery of the various support schemes.

We are liaising closely with business leaders, the trade unions, and across political parties throughout the United Kingdom as we respond to the scale of this emergency.

As a local MP, my focus has been on helping to support our response here in North East Cambridgeshire.

For my part, this has involved speaking - often early in the morning or late at night - to a wide mix of senior local stakeholders and escalating their issues directly to ministerial colleagues and their departments.

Alongside this, my Parliamentary office is liaising with our parish councils, local charities, and community groups, as well as individuals particularly impacted by these events to offer support and guidance.

The coronavirus outbreak has already fundamentally changed the way many of us are working.

I dialled in to the first ever Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister by video conference, and now both Government meetings and our Parliamentary office team meetings take place online.

Having spent so much of the last year working away, my working day now involves staying fixed to my desk at home. Our family dog is certainly pleased that the Chief Medical Officer still allows one daily walk!

Many people across our area are doing remarkable things to keep our community going.

The supermarket staff who keep on serving, the NHS and care home workers supporting those in most need, the police who continue to protect us and the businesses providing key services.

There are also the council and government staff who ensure so many essential functions, from our bins to benefits payments, continue in the face of enormous challenges. Others are playing their part by following the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer and Government Chief Scientific Advisor. To everyone locally who has stepped up to help at this time – I want to thank you for all you are doing. We face very difficult weeks ahead.

Together, by continuing to follow the Government’s scientific and medical advice, and supporting each other in the way we have been, we will get through this challenge and look forward to brighter days ahead.

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