Katie Cavanna: Our greatest asset in Torbay has always been its people

Torquay United Community Sports Trust delivering food for RE4orm

Torquay United Community Sports Trust delivering food for RE4orm - Credit: Archant

Covid-19 has been the biggest peacetime crisis this country has ever encountered. We've faced a humanitarian emergency with a real need to come together to face the challenges ahead.

Community participation has been essential in the collective response to COVID-19, from compliance with lockdown, to community support through volunteering.

Communities have clearly wanted to help.

Here in the UK, about one million people have volunteered to help the pandemic response and highly-localised mutual aid groups have sprung up all over the world with citizens helping one another with simple tasks such as checking on wellbeing during lockdowns.Communities, including vulnerable and marginalised groups, have identified the response needed and sought solutions.

Sustained engagement and communication with community groups active at the local level, has helped to build trust and confidence in response efforts and enabled community participation and action.

Research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) was carried out at a time when the UK had just officially left the EU.

Interestingly, it found that eight in ten (79 per cent) agreed that we need to put our differences aside and come together as a country – a resolve to try harder with one another.

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Even more (85 per cent) agreed that it's important to come together when bad things happen.

This pandemic has put these good intentions to the test and shown that, despite a cynicism and antagonism bred by years of division, people are more than capable of putting their differences aside in the spirit of greater cooperation and looking out for each other.

We're witnessing genuine solidarity and the coming together of the British public.

From 'clap for carers' and NHS volunteers to supermarket opening hours for the vulnerable, free online theatre productions, postcard campaigns to battle loneliness and an abundance of free home-schooling support, to name just a few.

While the consequences of this pandemic are becoming clearer each day, we must not forget the way, here in Torbay, so many of us have come together as a community.

This week RE4orm has marked the production and delivery of more than 10,000 meals and 10,000 food parcels to families in need across Torbay.

The Food 4 Torbay project works with a team of volunteers and local businesses delivering 1000 nutritious meals and essential food parcels to families in crisis.

A plethora of outstanding businesses have supported RE4orm's efforts. During a time of financial uncertainty, their selfless love and generosity is something they should be very proud of.

As we move into the next stage of the pandemic, it would be remiss to ignore the sheer impact of the work undertaken by so many Torbay.

The naturally inspiring work of charities and organisations in our community has been simply phenomenal.

A community in action has been evident for many months.

From the Torbay Food Alliance, made up of 12 local groups, delivering a monumental 70,000 meals, to Punks Against Poverty who have opened a new social enterprise store alongside their incredible pantries, to TCDT answering thousands of calls to their helpline, to local restaurants delivering meals for free to key workers. Torbay has proved that it cares and that we are here for one another.

The neighbours we may have smiled briefly at each morning, have now become friends. We check up on each other. We genuinely care.

Yes, it's going to be a tough ride ahead, even more so in Torbay, but we have proved by the bucketload that we will unite to help those in need in our community.

Let's continue you with this; keep the momentum going.

Our greatest asset in Torbay has always been its people.

Now is the time, more than it has ever been before, to continue to come together.

We have proved we can do it. Let's keep going.

Let's be that voice and force for positive change.