What do Lib Dems do in a crisis? – we care for others

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I won’t lie. I’ve been anxious at how quickly Covid-19 pandemic has progressed.

I’m about to start homeschooling my children, and despite being a qualified teacher, it’s daunting. But this is also a time my children will see my actions and behaviour and be formed by them. So I only feel right that I should focus my free time on the elderly and most vulnerable who will be be self-isolating over the coming weeks and months.

This is going to be a testing time for our nation. But I don’t feel we should be in the Blitz spirit – this is a completely different threat. This a start of a revolution – a chance for humanity to show its strength against an invisible enemy and fight for the services we take for granted: the NHS, the teachers, the care workers – the so called “low skilled workers”! This episode could change the way we educate, socialise and communicate. But most importantly how we care for each other, particularly our most vulnerable.

During these times, we need to pay extra attention to the elderly. Many will need assistance with obtaining groceries, medication and other essentials. Some will receive fewer visits from family and friends; increasing the risk of a harmful incident, such as a fall, not being noticed until too late. Reduced social contact will also have massive psychological implications, in the form of loneliness.

The rise in loneliness and social isolation over the last few years, particularly amongst the elderly, has been well documented. It is one of the reasons I championed a “happy to chat bench” in Cheam – to encourage people to reach out and build the relationships which are so vital to sustaining healthy lives. The imminent period of isolation is likely to lead to the issue being exacerbated. The happy to chat bench might not be coronavirus friendly, but let’s all do our bit to think of creative ways to combat this issue. You may have seen Ed Davey’s important announcement that the Lib Dem party is mobilising members to set up a taskforce to help people deal with self-isolation. Please visit www.libdems.org.uk/coronavirus to see how you can help.

Here are a three other things I have done and would suggest any healthy Lib Dem member tried too.

  1. If you have elderly / vulnerable neighbours consider dropping a note through their door with your contact details so they can get in touch if they are worried or need a hand. A template postcard you could use is available here.
  2. Sign up to local mutual aid groups, you can find your nearest group using the Lib Dem coronavirus page I shared above.
  3. Donate to your local foodbank, many of them are coming under huge pressure and running out of key supplies such as UHT milk and tinned foods.

I am proud of our party’s response to this crisis so far. Ed Davey showed decisive leadership in cancelling the Lib Dem’s spring conference, as soon as the Coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the WHO, on March 11th.

Shortly after this, our London mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, wrote to the incumbent Mayor of London, setting aside political differences to offer her support in this time of crisis. Benita will be mobilising as many of our London members as possible in a “Calling with Kindness” initiative, that seeks to identify people who need support and to connect them with the appropriate support group or charitable organisation in their area.

Let’s all take our cue from this, and do whatever is in our capacity to help each other, in true Lib Dem fashion.

* Hina Bokhari is a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly.

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3 Comments

  • John Marriott 22nd Mar '20 - 5:51pm

    Hina, is what you are doing called ‘virtue signalling’? I’m not up to speed with modern phrases. Surely a Conservative or a Labour supporter can also ‘care for others’ in a crisis? Lib Dems surely don’t have a monopoly on caring.

    If you want to politicise the current crisis that’s up to you. Personally speaking, you won’t gain many votes that way.

    Having said that, Nigel Farage has been awfully quiet lately.

  • Let us be very careful, no doubt there were some Lib Dem voters, maybe members, out and about yesterday “congregating”.

  • Sarah Chapman 23rd Mar '20 - 8:18am

    I don’t think ‘virtue signalling’ is a fair or kind comment. I’d hope that organisations everywhere will be mobilising to do the things mentioned above. It’s fair enough to suggest that healthy members put the energies they’d normally put into campaigning into helping tackle the crisis we are now in.

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