“We will get through this together” – Mayor Joe Anderson’s coronavirus crisis letter to Liverpool
I felt it was important to write to you frankly and honestly at this very difficult time.
Just a matter of a few weeks ago it would have been impossible to have imagined how much our lives would change in such a short space of time.
We are in the middle of a battle with an enemy that we cannot see. The published infection levels and death rates only tell part of the story. Which means we must stay apart to prevent its spread.
This is particularly tough in a city that thrives on social contact. At times of great uncertainty it is to put an arm around each other and provide reassurance. Yet we’re unable to.
Many of you are at home with your families. Like many others, I am unable to see my children and grandchildren. It is a desperately difficult situation.
Some of you will be doing the Joe Wicks workout or Jamie Oliver’s store cupboard recipes. Others will not have the access to the internet to do this.
We talk about home schooling – for some that will be easy, for some a step too far – along with everything else you are dealing with.
Many of you will be struggling to cope. And it is ok. It is ok just to do your best.
I struggle with not being able to control this. As someone who has grown up in this city. As someone who has fought for it with every breath in my body.
We are all proud of Liverpool’s renaissance over the last 20 years. We live in a thriving, cosmopolitan city which is hugely popular with visitors.
But as I speak, the shops and retaurants at Liverpool ONE are deserted. The bars and clubs of Mathew Street are closed to tourists.
In a city where faith is hugely important – the pews at our churches and synagogues, and the prayer rooms at our mosques are empty.
The rivalry and banter between Everton and Liverpool fans is on hold.
This is a city that comes together – in times of grief, in times of sorrow and in times of celebration.
Despite the austerity of the last decade we have shared great moments as a city. Balancing the savage cuts with hope and investment, so we didn’t spiral into decline.
Jean Luc’s Giants striding around our city. The Three Queens on the River Mersey. An events programme the envy of the country.
Now – more than ever – we need to channel the hope and joy that those events brought.
One of the cruellest things about coronavirus is that is it denying us the opportunity to come together and do that.
Most heartbreaking of all: those whose loved ones have passed away are unable to get together as family and friends to give them the send-off they deserve, and begin the grieving process.
It is almost beyond comprehension.
One of the things I am fondest of saying is that our city’s best days lie ahead of it – but it certainly does not feel like that at the moment – for me, and for you. But at times like this we need to dig deep, and find resilience and hope.
We all know the amazing work of the NHS – it’s why at the last council meeting we awarded the Royal, Broadgreen and Aintree Hospitals ‘Freedom of the City’ – the highest civic honour we can bestow.
We have all seen the devotion and commitment of our health workers, putting their lives on the line to save ours.
The events of the last few weeks have rightly thrown the spotlight on many jobs that are undervalued by society.
The care workers in residential and home care – continuing to look after the elderly and infirm.
Those in retail who are making sure we are able to get our essential groceries – and the logistics and delivery drivers who make sure they get the supplies.
Our education staff who worked with schools to set up the network of hubs, and our children’s centres who have worked to issue free school meals vouchers to families.
Those working to keep life and limb services going – social care for vulnerable young and old people, refuse staff emptying the bins, those making sure the most vulnerable get food delivered.
And not forgetting the 3,000 people who stepped forward to offer help and assistance for our Good Neighbour Scheme.
We don’t know what type of city we will be at the end of this. The knock-on effects will be huge and have a lasting impact on all of us, both economically and socially. The toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing due to the disruption to our lives.
I have said we won’t let anyone go hungry.
We are cracking on with distributing the money from central government to help businesses through this period – £10 million so far, and rising by the day.
The feedback I am getting from small and medium sized firms who are currently staring into the abyss is that they need government to do more to make sure they emerge on the other side of this – and my message is what they have announced so far must only be the start.
I have asked my team to work on a plan for our city’s recovery, and we have started that.
But now is the time to stay at home and follow the rules. Be patient. Be kind to each other. If you need help, reach out to friends, family, neighbours and to the council.
Like you, I love my family I love my city and it is this love that will take us through the next dark days and into the future for us our children and our grandchildren.
I am determined that we will emerge stronger, and more caring and compassionate. Able to appreciate a little bit more the freedoms that perhaps we have all taken for granted.
And remember that it is our citizens that make it the best place in the world – which is why the current restrictions are making life so hard for us all at the moment.