During the summer months we all have an opportunity to pause, catch our breath and reflect on the year so far. I think it’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. We have faced the most severe public health and economic challenge in living memory. There isn’t a single person or community whose life hasn’t been touched by the Coronavirus and its effects. Whether you are mourning the loss of a relative, friend or neighbour to the virus. Whether you are a key worker who has been on the front-line of the fight against the disease – in our NHS, social care system, emergency services, shops, postal service and so many more besides. Or whether life as you know it has been transformed by months in lockdown, apart from family and friends. This crisis has affected all of us.
As life begins to gradually return to some sense of normality, there can be no room for complacency, no taking our foot off the pedal – as the introduction of local lockdowns in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire demonstrate. We’ve all got to continue to play our part in the national effort to overcome this awful disease. We are now seeing the economy beginning to tick over once again, our High Streets begin to reopen and businesses that have weathered the financial storm of the pandemic are now starting to welcome customers once more. We can also do our bit to help nurse the local and regional economy back to health. The Government must play its part continuing to make progress on reducing the rate of transmission and getting the virus under control. That is the best way of restoring consumer confidence and supporting our High Streets. We can all play our part in the process of rebuilding and renewing our economy: by shopping local and backing independent retailers, pubs, cafes and restaurants; supporting our domestic tourism industry and visitor economy; and wearing masks in shops and on public transport to give our fellow customers the confidence to use the High Street once more.
Usually, as summer approaches, we are thinking of booking a holiday or planning the activities that will keep the kids entertained. The uncertainty of 2020 will mean that, for many of us, we’ll be staying local this year and making the most of the fantastic visitor attractions that we’ve got right here on our doorstep in Barnsley. Whether that’s taking a walk or bike ride through the countryside just next door to the Town Centre at the Fleets Dam in Honeywell; paying a visit to Cannon Hall Farm, which is always a favourite for my kids(!); exploring the natural scenery and inspirational, world-renowned artwork on offer at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; or enjoying our wonderful historical and heritage offer at Wentworth Woodhouse and Wentworth Castle Gardens in Stainborough – there’s something to keep the kids entertained throughout the summer holidays. Just remember, most places still have some restrictions in place to maintain social distancing and keep people safe – so do check online before planning this summer’s new experiences.
Whatever you do this summer, I hope you manage to find some time to take a break, recharge your batteries and spend some quality time with the family – especially those who you have been apart from over the last few months – and, above all, that you enjoy summer safely.
This article was originally published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 14 August 2020