CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Thanks to all those who have kept us safe this year

Christmas is now upon us in these challenging times. With the PM’s announcement, we know this year we will be able to be with our family and friends on the day and this is due in large part to our fantastic and game changing vaccine programme and this is progress.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 12:23 pm

Omicron is giving us some cause for concern and the need for everyone to step forward and have their booster jab is urgent if we are to avoid the worst this new variant can throw at us.

This urgency is best illustrated by the Sovereign Community Centre opening on Christmas Day to administer the jab. My thanks go to all those at Sovereign and elsewhere in Eastbourne who are manning the barricades against this virus at this time of year. Your hard work and selflessness is an inspiration.

The Government has – as always – a fine balancing act to perform between keeping people safe and keeping jobs and businesses going while we battle the new variant. I wrote to the Chancellor last week after engagement with concerned local business leaders and I so welcome the newly announced £1 billion support package for hospitality, tourism and leisure with grants of up to £6,000 available. In a town like ours so dependent on these sectors this is very good news and it will save businesses and jobs. Again, the Government has decisively stepped in to help Eastbourne.

In the next few weeks, we will have a better understanding about how Omicron will affect the NHS and our lives. The often cited South African experience won’t necessarily translate to the UK, not least because it’s summertime in South Africa. Even if Omicron proves less severe than Delta, the numbers involved and the isolation period required may prove to be a supreme challenge to maintaining the workforce across multiple essential sectors. To help, the 10 day self-isolation rule will be cut to seven days following a negative lateral flow test on days six and seven.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have again kept us safe and the country moving this year.

Teachers, firefighters, the police, our NHS, hospice and social care staff, the armed services, posties, shop workers, delivery drivers to name some of those who have been the bedrock keeping us safe, supplied and looked after. My thanks to you all for your commitment and service. Here in Eastbourne we also have brilliant volunteers like the RNLI, Street Pastors and the Beachy Head Chaplains doing important work alongside and they will be out as ever this Christmas time. I have traditionally volunteered at the Winter Night Shelter run by Eastbourne Churches in the Christmas holidays but Covid has stopped this dormitory-style provision. The council will be offering emergency accommodation on those nights where it is anticipated temperatures will fall to zero but to help, I am very pleased that The Kingdom Way Trust will also offer an emergency same day bed through to February 28.

Beyond both the social challenges and the general festivities, Christians the world over and in our town will be celebrating Christmas as the birth of Jesus, Messiah and the greatest love story ever told. I’m looking forward to being at Midnight Mass this year. So I close by wishing you and yours the peace and joy of the season.

Take good care, stay safe and keep in touch.