As I write, the sun still shines, but most people in Lewes are hunkered down at home hoping that the unseen threat passes them by.
Although social distancing has created space between people, it has not separated us from each other. Social media is often criticised for fostering discord, but it has played a vital role in coordinating the local response to this crisis.
I have been astonished at how quickly Lewes has come together to reach out to those in need of support. Thousands of food parcels have been packed and hundreds of volunteers are tramping the streets delivering them. Funds to support this vital work have been coming in from generous individuals, charities and councils. Supermarkets too have stepped up their efforts to aid those in need.
The Town Hall may be shut, but the Town Council is playing its part in combatting the virus. Individual councillors are taking a lead: working as volunteers and organising the town’s response. Council staff are safe and mostly working from home, while the Town Hall is earmarked for possible use by the County Council. Business is being conducted remotely by email and phone, and we expect to run public council meetings via video links.
I have already given £1,000 from the Mayor’s charity to the Oyster Project, which supports learning disabled people in the town. Applications for support from our special grant fund for groups and organizations helping the community have been received from Lewes Coronavirus Volunteers, foodbanks and the Hub set up by Trinity Churches. I urge any organisation that is helping the Lewes community during the crisis and needs financial assistance to apply online using this link https://bit.ly/2y0QGXw .
Many of us are asking “when will we be able to escape this locked down world?”. I believe it will be a long haul that will test our strength and determination. In a town that gains much of its income from leisure activities, I am particularly worried about the fate of our many small businesses. I am glad they will be getting support from the District Council.
Whatever, the future holds it is clear the current crisis has bought out the best in Lewes. NHS workers are rightly applauded each week for their dedication and bravery, but our thanks must also go to everyone who has put the welfare of others before their own, especially those leading Lewes’s effort to alleviate the impact of Coronavirus. Thank you all.
Cllr John Lamb Mayor of Lewes 2019/20