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Reflections on an extraordinary year, by MP Jo Churchill

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Looking back at 2020 it feels like it has been suspended in time but also lasted only a few weeks. The UK, Europe and the wider world are still facing an enormous health and economic challenge from this global pandemic which we started to hear about, nearly a year ago.

We have learnt as a country to do things differently, whether that’s in Parliament that now has a little more of the 21st-century about it with screens in the main chamber beaming MPs in from around the four nations. Businesses who have changed what they do and how they do it, or schools who have had to tackle remote learning and a plethora of changes.

But in the parliamentary chamber like so much of our lives we need people, like a church, a school or a theatre, it’s heart is people and that is why I want to look not only at those challenges of which I know there are many, but at some of the ways we have adapted and learnt and some of the positives that have come out of the year.

woman having vaccine (43694558)
woman having vaccine (43694558)

For as I write, we have just passed half a million people who have been vaccinated. That has been an international achievement and has shown the very best of science and industry. We have some of the worlds most advanced genomics in this country helping us to understand sequencing and the work at Porton Down and laboratories across the country is phenomenal. But we also understand that there are scientists and laboratories coming up with answers across the globe and it is only by sharing what we know, that we will beat this pandemic.

People have spoken to me of being frightened, of both the physical threat but also to their livelihoods for some the worry of finding childcare as they go to look after others, for some it’s been future job prospects. But I’ve also heard about the wonderful care that has been given to individuals by hospice and community teams, GPs and pharmacists. The positive news of a new hospital, something I’ve fought for five years for, is now at its planning stage so that we can be assured of that care for our children and their children. Local firms have written to me about how new opportunities have made vacancies for local people.

What however has really struck me this year is the tales of kindness, the young people of Felsham delivering groceries to the elderly. Farmers and tradespeople offering me produce for the cooking going on across the constituency to help the old, the lonely or the vulnerable. Some of the community champions and hero’s that have bonded their villages together and the volunteers stepping up to do shopping and to deliver medicines.

Businesses have adapted and worked hard and for some there have been rewards, but this has been a very indiscriminate virus for businesses and for people. I speak to traders who have flourished who have had the best year ever who have completely moved sectors and who tell me they will probably never go back to working five days in the office as they did before. However, I’ve also spoken to young people worried about the future, students struggling to find placements to put their academic skills into practice and to business owners who are shaking their head that years of hard work are being threatened despite enormous government support.

So, in conclusion, as we look back on this year with thepattern of life disturbed by a virus, let’s spare a thought for those who will have spent Christmas caring for others, for those missing their family for those worried about their future and, make a New Year’s resolution: to seize every opportunity and help one another so as we reach calmer waters so we can look back at the end of 2021 and hopefully say it was the best of years.

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