Date Published: 23 March 2021
A special online book of reflection has been launched in Rutland as the county commemorates one year since the start of the first national COVID-19 lockdown.
In response to the growing threat posed by coronavirus, England entered its first lockdown on 23 March 2020, with people told they must stay at home to help stop the virus from spreading.
In the 12 months that have followed, Rutland has seen a huge response to combat the impact of COVID-19, led by Rutland County Council, regional Public Health experts and local NHS services. This effort has been supported by hundreds of volunteers, community groups, business and key workers from wide range of other organisations – all working together to help families living in the county.
Over the past year, Rutland’s pandemic response has included:
- Food delivery services to people who have been told to shield
- Local medicine collections schemes to gather and deliver prescriptions
- The launch of a dedicated council-run crisis line for anyone who needs urgent assistance
- Community groups offering to collect shopping and carry out other tasks for people who are self-isolating
- £17million of COVID grant funding issued to more than 1,300 Rutland businesses
- Winter Grants and Crisis Fund payments for families
- Direct contact with more than 1,500 vulnerable people, to make sure they are receiving the right support
In addition to this, in the past three months, Rutland’s vaccination centre in Oakham has administered the first COVID vaccine to more than 13,000 people. A new rapid testing centre has also been set up at Oakham Enterprise Park, near Ashwell, and has carried out more than 750 lateral flow tests.
“COVID-19 has been frightening and painful for all of us. But it’s also brought out the very best in people. A year after we went into lockdown for the first time, we want to thank everyone who’s been involved in our pandemic response and worked with us to support local communities. Lives and livelihoods have been saved because of the collective efforts of key workers, council officers, NHS staff, businesses, volunteers and community groups. It’s also important that we stop to reflect and remember all those who we’ve lost. If someone has helped you over the past year, you can leave your own message of thanks in Rutland’s online COVID memory book. Even though we’re looking back and saying thank-you, it’s equally important to remember that the pandemic isn’t over yet. There’s still a long way to go and we all need to continue following public health guidance that remains in place to keep us safe.”
Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council
In addition to launching the online book of reflection to mark the first COVID lockdown, a commemorative plaque has been commissioned and will be fixed to the outside of Oakham Library.
The plaque was unveiled on Tuesday 23 March by Richard Bonser, a medicine collection and vaccination centre volunteer, and Alexandra Chamberlain, a member of Rutland County Council’s RISE support team. The wording on the plaque reads: “On 23rd March 2020, the world stopped when we entered lockdown for the first time. People in Rutland kept going. We remember everyone affected by COVID-19 and pay tribute to all those involved in the County’s pandemic response.”
“It was through our local community and Dr Hilary Fox that I heard about the request for medicine collections to reduce the footfall at surgeries and to help the vulnerable people shielding at home. My first collection was just over a year ago, on the 20th March 2020. Alongside several other volunteers, we’re still providing this service today. Being able to help the vulnerable by allowing them to stay safe in their homes and collecting much needed medication made me feel that I was helping the big fight against COVID. Working at the Vaccination Centre alongside so many wonderfully kind and enthusiastic volunteers in a very busy, stressful environment, also makes you feel you are making a difference.”
Richard Bonser, Volunteer
“The RISE Team have spoken to hundreds of residents over the past 12 months, so we know just how much of a struggle the pandemic has been for many families during lockdown. The wellbeing phone calls we’ve made have identified people in need of support with food and medication, as well as providing an opportunity for people to connect and talk to someone. Thankfully, we’ve been able to offer support, advice and guidance throughout the pandemic. This has been particularly important for people who are caring for others or who’ve sadly experienced a bereavement. We’ve also supported people to navigate the Shielding guidance, as well as offering a listening ear to those who are feeling isolated or alone. It’s been a huge team effort, together with our fantastic local health services. I’m very proud to have been a small part of this support, along with colleagues and volunteers.”
Alexandra Chamberlain, Social Care Manager