We’ll get through this together

The Coronavirus epidemic is the most serious emergency the UK has faced in several generations. The social-distancing restrictions go further, in many ways, than those in wartime. Everyone has been affected, writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

Sunday, 5th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 5th April 2020, 12:45 pm
Paul Bristow MP column - we will get through this together

Sadly, some have already died of the virus at Peterborough City Hospital. For those in any doubt, getting COVID-19 is a serious risk to your life. The situation will also get worse before it gets better.

This is affecting people in different ways. As many know, both my parents were nurses in Peterborough’s NHS. I like to think of myself as a pretty down-to-earth sort of person, but talking about my family’s current situation is hard.

My father is 77 and has cancer. My mother is 72 and is brilliant, but she has coronary artery disease. I am their only child.

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Picking up their prescriptions, shopping for them, helping them with household supplies is the very least I can do. But not being able to hug my father, kiss my mother and take their grandchildren to see them?

Quite honestly, this has reduced me to tears. I know how many people are going through the same, or worse, right now. In countless ways, I am fortunate.

We all need to know that we are not alone.

The get-togethers and physical contact have gone. I can’t go to Bridge Street and have a coffee with my parents at the Lightbox cafe any more. We can’t have lunch and drinks at the Halcyon, or the Harrier, or the Fox and Hounds.

Nor can they try to join in my four-year-old daughter’s dance classes at the Parkway Sports and Social Club.

Yet there are things we can do. My daughters love seeing my parents on FaceTime and through the internet – every single time they make each other laugh. That is the best part of my day.

The rules on social distancing are horrible, but necessary. As a small minority still need to be told, remember that they are rules, with the law behind them. We must stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

For all the current difficulties, however, in our personal lives and in the turmoil of businesses closing and individuals struggling, there are wonderful things too. Good people are coming together.

Amid the hundreds of emails flooding my inbox, there are the stories of brilliant community service. There are the kind neighbours, the volunteers, the restaurants donating food, the groups and charities responding to the moment.

From new national consortia of companies to build ventilators from scratch, down to streets creating their own WhatsApp groups, we will get though this together.

The ‘lockdown’ measures need to continue, but they are starting to have an effect. The East of England isn’t seeing the kind of figures reported from London, at least at this stage. If we stick to the rules, let us pray that we limit the numbers.

Our NHS and social care staff are doing brilliantly, in desperately difficult circumstances.

This horrible time will end. That doesn’t make each day any easier, in the small ways or large. I’m doing my best to help people as your MP, without being immune to the emotional challenges either.

But you aren’t alone and we will get through this, together, as one city.