It is always a bit of a nuisance that the deadline for this column keeps falling before events upon which I might reasonably be expected to comment. So I know the PM is to make a statement to MPs today and then one on television tonight, that is usually a sign of something pretty momentous. I hope it is about schools re-opening, but that might be the optimist in me.
It is clear from the correspondence I am receiving at the moment that parents (especially mothers – for it is almost exclusively women writing) are desperately worried about the lack of socialisation their children are receiving, the challenge around remote learning, and many also reflecting upon the impact it is having on their own career. This week I had the opportunity to raise some of these issues with the Chancellor and he absolutely reinforced the point that getting schools back is the number one priority.
On Tuesday I visited the vaccination centre at the Crosfield Hall and heard at first hand from the medics and the volunteers as to how things were going there. There was real confidence that by the time you read this every over 80 year old registered at the local GPs will have been offered a vaccine and there can be no doubt that a very efficient operation is being run at the Crosfield Hall. A huge thank you also to the volunteers from the Men’s Shed, who were in the car park in the rain on Tuesday, and to all those who have joined the voluntary effort. I did also have a useful chat about repairs to garden furniture!
The grim milestone of 100,000 deaths being passed this week is a stark reminder of just how the pandemic has impacted families across the country. Every death is a tragedy, and all of our condolences are with those who have lost loved ones. It is imperative therefore that now the over 80s are by and large vaccinated (at least locally) we need to accelerate through the over 70 cohort as well, and make sure they are protected.