Listening to the news, and looking at social media, you could be excused from not knowing precisely what the rules are now that the government guidance has changed from “Stay at Home” to “Stay Alert”.
We know that the lockdown is being eased and day travel, including to the coast, is now permissible. However many local authorities, including our local Rother District Council are seeking to deter visitors on health and safety grounds. We expect non essential shops to open by mid-June and possibly outdoor hospitality facilities. But much depends on the progress made to get the virus under control.
So far, public health data indicates that Rye and district has had few cases, but without widespread testing, and reports that some have the virus without showing symptoms, it is impossible to be sure.
Already visitors, including from abroad, are beginning to return to Rye and district and this must increase the risk of a virus “flare up” and we now learn that the government intends to lockdown areas where flare ups occur.
Meanwhile Rye Mutual Aid (RMA), in its 10th week of operation is continuing to provide community support to the vulnerable in some 21 zones from Westfield to Camber. The zones cover about a quarter of Rother district.
Since the start, RMA has been an integral part of the community support across Rother and provides a “hub” for the eastern part of the district. In the last week demand in some areas has fallen off, and some volunteers are being lost as they return to work.
There is also talk that the national “shielded list” of extremely vulnerable people may be adjusted in the light of the NHS experience of treating seriously ill patients. This may affect the dependency on community support. What is clear is that those using Rye food bank have increased significantly.
However there is still much going on to maintain the community support process. RMA, at both central team and volunteer level, meets regularly by Zoom, and at the latest of these sessions we discussed our funding strategy, fundraising and changes to how money is being accounted for, to provide greater transparency.
Since the start we have considered the way that face coverings have a part to play in the counter measures by taking the latest advice from the NHS and WHO and the home production of face coverings continues at a pace focussed around Jane’s Stitches in Rye. Mary Starling from our central team is handling the distribution around the community.
RMA is also considering some other projects related to our main aims of the provision of food, medicines and chats to the vulnerable. Caroline Drummond has suggested that one project might be the provision of toys from central points for those families which have been staying safe at home for many weeks, and may need some new distractions.
With the return of some students to schools in the next week or so, RMA has been in touch with schools to see if we can help in any way with resources. We have just completed a survey of volunteers to seek early feedback and to support the debate about where RMA goes as a social enterprise in the future. There will be more on this in later pieces.
Keeping you informed
Dominic Manning continues to collect and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) and Bruni Llovet keeps our volunteers informed through Facebook messaging. Following some intensive work by Jenny Sinclair, our website and social media platforms are cited as good practice and are enabling our effective communication: https://www.ryemutualaid.org/
The volunteers are now using enhanced tracking software courtesy of Luciano and Paul.
Through regular contacts with our MP, authorities at all levels, Rother Voluntary Action, and schools and providers of sheltered accommodation, work continues to keep aware of wider developments, look for ways to raise funds, and identify any vulnerable who may be overlooked. And we are all agreed that RMA will continue while its services are helping.
Despite any lack of clarity about guidance, what is clear is that everyone should continue to maintain social separation and keep washing hands.
Image Credits: Government website , Carol Macdonald , Nick Forman .