We’ve unleashed ourselves on DIY. I’ve worked with the kids to stitch together the torn safety netting that surrounds the trampoline. We built a table out of scrap wood and leftover screws. I put my drill in my boy’s hands and watched him grow in confidence. I was on good form until I drilled into a wall and there was a pop and a flash of light. The lights went out. Sinking feeling, although I suspect I should be thankful I survived.
I’ve been trying to give my kids an insight into my childhood. We watched The Count of Monte Christo. The 1974 film is on YouTube. I’d built it up as a great story – as it is. Although not quite as good I as I remembered it to be when I watched it with my Nan sometime in the 1980s. The boys tolerated my enthusiasm and lasted the whole film.
It was great to hear the accounts and see the pictures of the food being delivered to the most isolated and vulnerable of those being shielded. And the #WeAreBristol spirit is really being experienced. Thousands of people signed up on the Can Do Bristol website ready to go when called on. Some of them were there packing the food parcels that were then distributed by other volunteers including taxi drivers.
Also, my thoughts recently have been for those in the global south, countries who don’t have the scale and reach of European and North American healthcare services. A couple of nights ago I had a WhatsApp call from Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the Mayor of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Yvonne was in Bristol in 2018 for the Global Parliament of Mayors and we are among the ten Mayors on the Mayors Migration Council.
I asked her how they were coping. As things stand there are just over 4,000 confirmed cases on the African continent, with South Africa being worst-affected. Sierra Leone is one the few countries on the continent to as yet have no recorded cases. Mayor Yvonne has already taken strong action restricting movement and restricting trading times among other things. As here in Bristol, people are social distancing and self-isolating. She is offering real leadership.
But my thoughts have revolved around the numbers of people whose health resilience has been undermined by poverty. Those living in conditions where physical distancing is nigh-on impossible, such as shanty towns and refugee camps, and those who have absolutely no alternative other than to work because there is no safety net. For many, the coronavirus crisis is another major crisis on top of the other major crisis.
My hope – and I believe it is an opportunity – is in our ability to understand that we have not reached the other side of this crisis when we in Bristol/the UK alone gets there. It is not until the whole world gets there.
Firstly, this is the morally strong position to take. Secondly, it’s an understanding that reflects enlightened self-interest. This incredibly infectious virus has reached across the world in no time. Unless we come up with a global solution, we will remain vulnerable to it and/or potential mutations. Thirdly, Bristol is a global city with around 180 countries of origin with immediate family and friends stretching across the planet. We are a people of English, Welsh, Sierra Leonean, Somali, Ugandan, Sudanese, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, American and Polish heritage. What matters there is real, and matters to people here.