Over and over again I have heard it said on the news, and by other people that Covid-19 is a great leveller, that we are all just as susceptible to it, we are of course, but I write this from a large Manse in a relatively affluent area, I have access to soap and water, to good food, warmth and medication such as paracetamol. I am also in good health.
This is not the story for many people, refugees in Calais and in other areas of the world are forced to live in cramped conditions, they do not have access to good food, nor to medication and sanitation, Covid-19 will be devastating in such conditions and will simply run through the camps leaving many dead in its wake.
The same applies to other places in the world, people living in cramped conditions or on the streets, people in slums with no sanitation readily to hand…
Here in the UK food banks are struggling, in the first weeks of panic buying when Supermarkets put restrictions on what people could buy the food banks suffered by not being able to get the stock needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, the so often forgotten are forgotten again as the nation hunkers down. Here in my neighbourhood people are offering to help one another with shopping, orders for ice-cream and cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard are not uncommon, and only highlight how privileged we are, my encouragement is a bit different, if you buy 3 items of restricted food please consider donating at least one of those to the foodbank, you could probably really shop for somethings on a one for me two for others basis!
Covid-19 is not a leveller if you are already struggling and vulnerable! Emily Maitlis spoke forthrightly yesterday challenging misleading language surrounding the coronavirus crisis particularly challenging government ministers for suggesting that Covid-19 could be survived by showing “fortitude” and “strength of character”.
She continued to say:
“… the disease is not a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone – rich or poor – suffers the same.”
“This virus is not affecting everyone equally. We need to look after our most vulnerable.”
We certainly do, and when we go out to clap this evening for the NHS and other frontline workers , such as refuse collectors, postal workers, shop staff and carers both those working in the community and at home, we need to remember that not only are these people putting themselves at risk every day but they are often among the lowest paid workers. Others who are on zero hour contracts are simply without work, while others are being furloughed on 80% salary. Mortgage breaks may help homeowners, but there are no rent breaks!
So while we respect social distancing and stay at home, let’s remember those whose homes are not comfortable places to be, and let’s also remember those whose homes are dangerous places to be, and those who are unable to feed their children or themselves properly, to those who live in cramped conditions, and to those don’t have access to gardens or other places for exercise…
Finally we remember those who are being shielded due to underlying health conditions or age…
Today I heard people arguing that we should be opening our church buildings in order to care for the spiritual health of the nation. I strongly disagree, we would be putting people at risk, even with distancing measures we would be putting people at risk, we don’t have protective clothing and frankly it is needed elsewhere. We can pray in our homes and encourage others to do the same, as I keep saying to people the buildings are closed, the church is still alive.
My colleagues and myself have been and will be facing leading funerals for people who have died from Covid-19, there will be very few mourners allowed to gather, it may soon be none at all, as seen in statistics from America, many of the deaths will be people in the more vulnerable groups. So let’s be good neighbours, crossing the road away from our neighbours, fot that is helping, and let’s not open buildings unnecessarily putting people at risk!
Covid-19 could put all of us at risk, it could it seems kill any of us, but a leveller it is not, some of us are far less vulnerable than others. Let those of us who are privileged remember that.