Many local schools have expanded their intake this week and others plan to do so shortly. Parents and pupils will be enormously grateful to heads, teachers and other members of staff for making this possible. I know not every school will be able to open up to all reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils. It is right that Government issued guidance and it is also right that decisions on implementation are made at a local level. This does mean that with restricted space or staff difficult decisions are having to be made to help keep children and staff safe as young pupils embark on the adventure of being in school again. It is not as it should be and is not as we would want but it is a start and we are grateful to all who have made it possible.
Nor must we forget the huge amount of effort of teaching staff to the children of key workers and maintain home learning. The whole sector has pulled together to help the young people in its care.
At this time of year I would normally be seeing young people engaged on the National Citizenship Service which sadly has had to be postponed. The scheme is designed to instill a love of volunteering that will remain through life.
This week is “National Volunteers’ Week”. It’s important that we always find the time to recognise the work of our voluntary organisations but that is especially true today. Over 750,000 people volunteered to support the NHS in the community at the start of the crisis. The reason many of these dedicated people have not been deployed during the crisis is that at a very local level in towns and villages existing or newly formed voluntary organisations were already stepping in to help.
Locally in Horsham and the villages, Support Groups have been established and I know they have been inundated with volunteers keen to help their neighbours by doing their shopping, picking up prescriptions or just being a friendly voice down the phone. Facebook pages have been set up connecting someone in need with a volunteer ready to help.
The support all of these volunteers has been invaluable.
Many of those who are most active in normal times in their communities are currently unable to take part. I know we are all looking forward to seeing again the regular pattern of activities that brings so much joy to so many over so rich a horizon of activity. From supporting the Phoenix Stroke Club, delivering the Horsham Hospital Fete, providing community speed watch groups, engaging with residents and working for better environmental outcomes at the Horsham Repair Café, helping every part of society through Horsham Matters, remembering (in the week of the Anniversary of D Day) the Royal British Legion and Service Charities and what they do for those in need, the Lions and Rotary and countless others to whom local people give so much of their time and money.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin visiting Handcross Primary School prior to the lockdown. The school has been among many providing ongoing education and exciting opportunities to pupils during the lockdown,