February 2021: News from your local MP
Jack Lopresti: A time for renewal and hope
THE new year is a time for renewal and hope; of looking back on the year that’s ending and looking forward to the opportunities that a new year can bring. While this year may have started feeling quite different to that, there is a lot to be hopeful for this year, as well as many good things to look back on from 2020.
I have been moved and inspired by our communities pulling together to support the vulnerable and needy and those being asked to shield. Businesses found new ways of operating in challenging circumstances. The summer brought a brief near respite, where people were out and about, enjoying the weather and supporting local businesses.
And so, this year there is great cause for optimism. Vaccines are being rolled out; across our area and the whole West of England, nobody is more than 10 miles from a vaccination centre, whether that’s the large-scale centre at Ashton Gate Stadium, which was visited by the Prime Minister when it opened last week, or your local GP surgery.
As I write this, more than 2.5 million people in Britain have been vaccinated, and the South West is near the top of the table for the number of jabs per 100 people, with 285,332 people vaccinated in our region. The UK is way ahead of our friends on the continent, and third in the world for total vaccines administered.
This is an incredible achievement, and it will only progress faster as more people become eligible. We have a vaccine developed here in the UK by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which is cheap and easy to store and, thanks to the work of the UK Vaccines Taskforce, plenty of doses on order to ensure that everyone can in time be vaccinated.
Where in March last year we were facing an unknown enemy, this time we know how to beat it. By keeping away from those we don’t live with, and staying at home as much as possible, we can keep the virus at bay. New treatments are coming which makes it easier to help people suffering the most and reduce the impact on our hospitals.
We do, however, have to get through this period of difficulty. We are all frustrated that we are again in a national lockdown. But we must face the fact that the new strain is putting incredible pressure on our health service and respond accordingly. I would like to pay tribute to everyone working in the NHS, care homes and all other key workers. You are doing a fantastic job and we are all immensely grateful.
I am confident that this year will see a return to normality as the vaccine programme kicks in. And then, we can see the benefits of some of the huge changes that are being made in our area. The West of England Combined Authority is investing millions of pounds to transform transport in the region and investigate how 5G can benefit residents and businesses. More defence spending means well-paid, secure jobs in our formidable defence and aerospace industries.
2021 brings with it both hardship and optimism. Let’s face it head on, look out for our neighbours and friends and embrace the opportunities that come our way .
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