The virtual event reflecting on Calderdale's year - and looking to the future
One of the last big council events before COVID-19 enforced lockdown was March 2020’s We Are Calderdale – and this year’s virtual event reflected on a year like no other and looks to the future.
The event was broadcast live on Calderdale Council’s social media channels and is available to watch on the council’s YouTube channel.
Within the limits of the pandemic, the council, Calderdale College and Trinity Sixth Form Academy organised the online production.
The We Are Still Calderdale event adapted online to include guest speakers, panel discussions, films focusing on parts of the borough’s communities and a virtual market place, combining to recreate all the elements which usually take place when the gathering happens in person.
In a film and live question and answer session guest speaker, Halifax’s world record breaking Paralympian Hannah Cockroft spoke about the challenges the pandemic had brought her and where like other Calderdale citizens she had had to show resilience.
Hannah outlined challenges which ranged from the practicalities of training to missing people but she encouraged people to stay positive and to be active.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we can come back stronger,” said Hannah, who aims to bring back more gold medals to Halifax and Yorkshire from the Tokyo Paralympics to be held later this year after being postponed from 2020.
Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift introduced the event by saying the pandemic would have a long term impact on Calderdale people’s physical and mental wellbeing but it had demonstrated the values communities held.
It was a year when people had helped their friends and neighbours, different communities had found different ways of supporting each other and he said the flexibility of individuals, businesses and community groups “had found new ways of working together and new ways of making things happen.”
Coun Swift (Lab, Town) said the pandemic carried a huge cost.
“But recovery is also a real opportunity to plan and think how we do this in a way that genuinely reflects the ideas and ambitions we have for Calderdale,” he said.
The council’s Chief Executive, Robin Tuddenham, said much had happened over and above dealing with COVID-19 and reinforcing the borough’s Vision2024.
The pandemic had seen its enterprising and talented people meet challenges it posed, with the restored Piece Hall an established hub, retail reshaped but strong and developing, and Calderdale’s manufacturing base adapting to the post-COVID and post-Brexit world, he said.
Major projects such as the completion and opening of Trinity Sixth Form College were realised.
An example of kindness and resilience was shown by the Never Hungry Again campaign for the borough’s poorest families, a partnership of council, Community Foundation for Calderdale and the Piece Hall producing results, said Mr Tuddenham.
Recovering from the pandemic had to be inclusive of all and key would be investment in Calderdale’s towns, tackling the climate crisis and developing resilience against flooding, supporting business and tourism and developing health and social care to meet people’s needs close to their homes and tackling homelessness, said Mr Tuddenham.
Creativity would be shown in planning for the major Year of Culture in 2024, marking the 50th anniversary of the borough’s founding, he said.