Easter Sunday will look very different to many people in Carshalton and Wallington this year.
As well as being a significant time of year in the Christian calendar, April marks a series of important Holy events for people of all faiths.
Whether it be Easter, the start of Ramadan, Passover, Theravada New Year, Tamil and Sinhala New Year, Vaisakhi, or any of the Holy events that are observed this month, I appreciate how difficult this time of year will be, for people of all faiths and none, not to spend it with their friends and family.
Regardless of whether you are observing a religious holiday or not, this weekend is normally one we cherish to spend time with our loved ones. It is a period in which we can reflect, give thanks and be renewed – an encompassing of the feeling of new life that comes with spring.
Normally this is marked by families and friends coming together to eat, drink and celebrate – to enjoy and refresh in the extended bank holiday with those we love most.
This year will not only be very different, but also very difficult.
In the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic, we are having to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives – unable to gather with our friends and family as we normally would.
At such a time, I find it becomes easy to be consumed by fear, anxiety and worry. The deadly effects of this invisible killer are already well documented, with the tragic loss of life bringing pain to families across the country.
Every single person who has sadly passed away was special to somebody, and our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones at this terrible time.
It is hard to imagine how anybody could fail to feel the affects of the virus in some way shape or form, not just in our physical health, but whether it be the disruption to our work, the concern about our businesses, the strain on our mental health, the charities we support, the friends and family on the front line of tackling this virus, our children’s education, the worry for those already struggling with loneliness, the inability to leave our home, how we come out the other side – all of us have had our lives touched by this pandemic.
Consequently, we can fall prey to the negative, the frightening and the unknown. We grow angry, scared and concerned.
However, as with every dark time, there are those who offer rays of light and give us hope for the future.
Those small acts that warm our hearts and fill us with the confidence to carry on. It is for that reason that I want to give thanks to those extraordinary people helping to see Carshalton and Wallington through this crisis.
I give thanks to the doctors, nurses, allied care professionals, porters, cleaners, kitchen staff, receptionists, admin staff and everyone at the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sutton CCG, our care homes, our community pharmacies and all local health and care providers who are responding brilliantly and caring for us and our families.
I give thanks to the amazing charity staff and volunteers, particularly those from Volunteer Centre Sutton, Community Action Sutton and Age UK Sutton, for co-ordinating the huge amount of inspirational local volunteers to help deliver food, medicines, PPE equipment and more to those in need.
I give thanks to the Police for responding to the changing nature of crime, enforcing the new restrictions and keeping us safe.
I give thanks to businesses big and small, whether they be remaining open to provide us with essential supplies, helping in the national effort to tackle the virus by manufacturing new products, donating to local good causes, etc, changing the way they operate to keep their staff safe, or closing and ensuring their employees get the financial peace of mind to see them through this crisis.
I give thanks to the hardworking staff and officers at Sutton Council who are helping to disperse some of the help and support available to businesses and individuals, to the refuse collectors and street cleaners, and all those helping to keep vital services ongoing.
I give thanks to the teachers and schools who are helping our key workers by continuing to teach their children and the most vulnerable children in our community.
I give thanks to my own amazing team, Lewis, Tommy, Catherine and Richard, who have helped me to respond to the literally hundreds of people who have called or emailed me to seek help or advice in dealing with this pandemic. If you need my help then please get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling me on 020 7219 5862.
And finally, I give thanks to you. For staying at home and observing social distancing when you go out to shop or exercise, you are helping to respond to this pandemic, and the more we do this, the quicker the restrictions can be lifted and our lives returned to normal.
I would like to finish with a few inspirational words from Her Majesty, The Queen:
"We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again."
Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
A very happy Easter to you and your families.