As 2020 draws to a close, it is natural to look back on the year – and what a year it has been.
Who could imagine when the clock chimed midnight on 31st December 2019 that the following year would see a strange new virus rip across the world, with aeroplanes grounded worldwide and mask-wearing becoming the norm.
Because of the Covid-19 lockdowns, we have seen so many aspects of our day-to-day life change this year and that has brought with it its own challenges.
My inbox has been filled with stories of struggling businesses going under, families being split apart, medical treatment being cancelled, suicidal thoughts and young people’s futures being taken away.
It was for these reasons that, earlier this year, I resigned from my role in government in order for me to vote against further crippling lockdown measures and speak out about what I was seeing in my own constituency. This was one of the most difficult decisions of my political career, but I even more strongly believe it was the right one. I am grateful for the support so many of you have given me over the last few months – your emails, phone calls and letters were very much appreciated.
Even now, so many months later, our wonderful pubs and restaurants that are the lifeblood of our community remain closed. I am still getting emails about medical appointments being cancelled and serious conditions being missed. People are still contacting me to tell me that they are struggling to cope.
Whilst this year has been the most difficult of many people’s lives, we cannot let it pass without remarking on the sense of community spirit that has been on show during these difficult times.
There was so much to be proud of in our community this year. From Facebook groups being set up to co-ordinate shopping for the most vulnerable, to street parties to celebrate VE Day, despite the circumstances, local people didn’t let coronavirus stop us from celebrating our brilliant communities.
And we’ve all been supporting the small businesses that make up our communities as well. Our high streets are starting to thrive again and it has been fantastic to see so many people out supporting local shops and takeaways in the run up to Christmas.
This year has had more than its fair share of challenges, but it has also had its positives. Despite the doom and gloom, we mustn’t ever lose sight of what makes our community such a special place: our ability to look out for one another and, dare I say it, our sense of humour.
I would like to wish Wigan Observer readers a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2021.