Charities urge Government to not end lockdown too soon

Jo Cox Foundation Ambassador,  Kim Leadbeater.Jo Cox Foundation Ambassador,  Kim Leadbeater.
Jo Cox Foundation Ambassador, Kim Leadbeater.
A coalition of more than 250 charities and other organisations is calling on ministers to ensure that any easing of the lockdown doesn’t create new divisions in society.

The ‘Connection Coalition’, which includes the Jo Cox Foundation, Age UK, Mind and the British Red Cross, warns that segmenting the population risks fracturing the united response that has brought communities together in response to the virus.

The coalition says any exit strategy must include efforts to maintain and strengthen the bonds that have enabled people to support one another through the worst of the pandemic.

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The announcement follows the Government's news that lockdown measures might be eased in the upcoming weeks and months.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “Lockdown fatigue is a perfectly natural feeling right now. We all look forward to the day when the virus and its terrible consequences can be consigned to the past. Whenever it comes let us try to look back not only with sadness at the appalling loss in terms of lives and livelihoods, but also with pride at how we as a society responded.

“Individuals and communities all across the UK have shown that it is possible to be socially together while physically distant. For many people, connecting with the most vulnerable in society is something they have always done, but for many others it has been a new and very fulfilling experience.

“Britain has come together in this crisis. We must maintain that united sense of purpose, not create new divides.”

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Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind said: “As we've been keeping our physical distance, we've shown it's still possible to support, care and connect with others. Millions of us have found the excuse to knock on our neighbours’ doors, chat on street corners, over garden fences and support one another across hallways. Countless notes have been written, cakes baked, smiles given and received, food and medicine collected and delivered.

“A gradual relaxation of the lockdown will very welcome, whether it starts this weekend or later. But as the country edges towards a ‘new normal’ we must take care to build on the positive benefits of the strong social connections built up since the crisis began so that those hardest hit by the lockdown aren’t further left behind as it lifts.”

The ‘Connection Coalition’, which was brought together with the support of the Jo Cox Foundation, is made up of groups large and small from across the country.

Catherine Anderson CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation said: “We represent a wide coalition of charities and other organisations working together with a common aim – to build on the extraordinary examples of collective kindness and reciprocal support shown across our communities so they can become a permanent feature of a better-connected country.

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“In the midst of the health crisis, the issues we seek to tackle – including loneliness, mental health, bereavement and grief – have become more acute. But alongside the higher incidence of need in all these areas and more has come a growing awareness of the profound damage they can cause to the nation’s health and well-being.

“These conditions don’t discriminate. Wherever we are on the spectrum of age, wealth, education or physical ability, they can affect any of us. Some people will have had their first experience of one or more of these issues as a direct result of Covid-19. Others have been living with them for a very long time.

“While the virus has impacted some sections of society more aggressively than others – those in care homes, BAME communities, the most deprived parts of the country, men rather than women – the way people have responded has been universal.

“We are approaching a crucial test of our collective response. Will the ‘lucky ones’, those who can return to work or perhaps meet up with a wider group of friends or relatives, put as much time and effort as they have until now into connecting with those less fortunate?”

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Kim Leadbeater, Jo’s sister, said: "At a local level here in West Yorkshire I have been inspired by the way communities have pulled together during the current crisis. Working across all three sectors - public, private and voluntary - people and organisations have shown the strength of genuine collaboration and working in partnership towards the common good.

"Whether it is the council maximising the power of the third sector by working closely with the many inspirational community groups who are delivering shopping and prescriptions to those in need, or local businesses providing funding and donations to local charities, community groups, churches and mosques to provide food parcels for people, we are constantly seeing that my sister Jo's words that we have 'more in common than that which divides us' have never been more true.

"The compassion and kindness of community at a local level makes me feel very excited abut this year's Great Get Together weekend on 19th-21st June, when I know that the people of Batley & Spen and far beyond will be remembering Jo and showing that even though we may not be able to 'get together' as we have in previous years' we can still 'be together' in spirit."

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