OCCASIONALLY you will hear people say that during the coronavirus crisis, “We’re all in this together” or “We’re all the same boat”.
There is, of course, an element of truth to this. We are all having to change how we live our lives and the vast majority have been following the same rules.
However, the reality is lockdown is much harder for some than others. Some are lucky and can work from home on full pay while others have lost their jobs or face an uncertain future.
Some experience coronavirus without any symptoms at all, while others sadly do not survive.
Some are locked down in loving families while others are alone or in dangerous living arrangements.
There are millions of different versions of lockdown and it would be wrong to suggest we all share exactly the same experience.
There is now a wealth of evidence, for example, that shows the richest and poorest in this country are experiencing the crisis very differently.
While at one end this is simple things like having access to private gardens or lots of room inside to give each other space, at the other we have seen people on lower incomes are – for a wide variety of different reasons – more likely to die from this disease. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows this is the case right here in Tameside where the most deprived areas are those with the highest mortality from Covid-19.
This is extremely worrying in itself, but this is also combined with evidence that shows inequalities are being deepened by this crisis.
One obvious example is to school closure. While schools are shut, the attainment gap between richer and poorer students is growing. This unfortunately will create problems that last far beyond the end of the crisis.
With all this in mind, I think is absolutely essential we start to think now about how we might tackle the inequalities this crisis is causing and importantly will cause in years to come. This is part of why it was so important to extend free school meals over this summer holiday.
Our community has pulled together so wonderfully to help each other through this crisis – I hope we can do the same once the crisis has passed so that we do not leave anybody behind.