Next week we will mark one year since the first lockdown of the pandemic with a National Day of Reflection. In Croydon, we will remember the 978 residents who have lost their lives to Covid-19, and I invite you all to join me in honouring them with a minute of silence at 12 noon on 23 March. We must never forget that the true cost of this pandemic has been human life and, behind these figures, every one represents a devastating loss. We will also remember the family and friends they have left behind, many of whom were unable to mourn their loved ones as they would have wanted. The National Day of Reflection will be an opportunity for us to come together, in spirit if not in person, and join in commemorating their lives. My thoughts and deepest sympathies will be with everyone who has lost a loved one in this pandemic.
This sombre milestone is an opportunity for us to reflect not only on those we have lost, but our journey over the last year and the road ahead. The personal sacrifices we all continue to make and our united response to this pandemic remain vital in helping to keep our borough safe and begin our cautious recovery. This week I want to thank particularly the thousands of residents in South Norwood and Thornton Heath, who have come forward to take part in the extra testing in their area. This ends on Sunday, so if you live in the area please find out more at www.croydon.gov.uk/CovidTest.
I would also like to recognise all our school staff and young people who are participating in the secondary school testing programme, taking regular rapid tests to prevent the virus spreading in our communities. Anyone who lives or works in Croydon and doesn’t have any Covid-19 symptoms, can get a free rapid test at one of our sites. Around 1 in 3 people don’t have any symptoms, but could pass the virus to others, so regular rapid testing is recommended if you leave home your home to work or volunteer. Parents, carers and anyone with a school, college or nursery age child in their household bubble can also get free rapid flow tests delivered to their home or a collection point – you can find out more about all options available on our Covid-19 webpages.
A crucial part of our recovery is the Covid-19 vaccination programme and tomorrow, there will be a pop-up vaccination clinic at Croydon Mosque and Islamic Centre, with the AT Medics GPs from Thornton Road Surgery, between 1.15pm and 4pm. The clinic is for people of all faiths who are eligible for the vaccine – those aged over 50 or over the age of 16 and in an ‘at risk’ group – giving them the opportunity to receive their vaccination in a place that is convenient and familiar. I would urge anyone who is eligible to join or if you are over 50 and haven’t yet had yours, contact the NHS to book an appointment. If you have questions about the Covid-19 vaccination, visit the NHS website.
Building a safer, fairer Croydon
In the last week, the murder of Sarah Everard has prompted much sadness and anger over the loss of her life and the lives of so many other women who have been the victims of violence from men. As a former cabinet lead for community safety, I am very aware of the devastating impact violence has on too many women’s lives in our borough. As leader of the council, I am determined that we do all we can to build a society in which all women and girls are safe and free from harassment of any form. We will continue to work with partners across Croydon and those who have experienced violence to tackle the root causes and ensure better protection for women. We also need men to do more to call out and challenge abuse against women and to hold each other to account. If you are a woman experiencing violence, you are not alone. Find out about help for domestic abuse and sexual violence here.
In thinking about the society we want to build, tomorrow we will mark International Day for the Elimination of Racism (20 March). This global event calls on each and every one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes, and to promote a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination. Croydon has been proud to stand united against racism but we still have a long way to go and as leader, I am determined that our council will do all it can to make our borough a fairer place. Tackling inequality is a top priority for us, and our new equality strategy sets out action we are taking to achieve this, but every one of us has a vital role to play – we must stand in solidarity against racism in all its forms.
Finally, Sunday is Census Day, so remember to complete your census form – by filling it in, you help to ensure we and government understand your needs and help us to plan future services in your area, such as schools, healthcare, transport and much more. If you need help filling it in, or you or someone you know would like a paper copy, there is plenty of support available at https://census.gov.uk/
Have a good weekend, and stay safe
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council