Covid - A Year On: Redbridge reflects on one year since first lockdown
- Credit: PA
As millions mark March 23 - the day our lives changed dramatically with the start of the first national lockdown - Redbridge Council will join Marie Curie's national day of reflection to pay tribute to everyone who has suffered as a result of the pandemic.
The day will be marked by a minute of silence at noon on Tuesday, March 23.
At one point Redbridge had the highest Covid-19 infection rates across London, with numbers in the borough peaking at the start of this year when there were 1,580 new daily cases per 100,000 people.
That figure has come down drastically to its current infection level of 44 per 100,000, as of the latest information.
As of March 15, 843 people in the borough have died after contracting the virus.
Council leader Jas Athwal said: "Our world turned upside down on March 23 last year as we entered the first national lockdown and lives and livelihoods were lost and destroyed.
"To say the past year has been tough is an understatement.
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"But through it all, we have also seen the kindness of strangers and the determined resilience of neighbours, frontline workers, friends and family in fighting this pandemic.
"This mixture of sacrifice, grit and compassion continues to shine through. So, this week is about the people of Redbridge as we remember and reflect whilst also looking to the future and the rebuilding of Redbridge.”
Almost 94,000 people have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the borough and nearly 450,000 tests have been carried out in the community since the beginning of the pandemic.
Dr Gladys Xavier, Redbridge's director of public health, said the past year has been extremely challenging and the virus forced people to adjust to a way of life no one could have expected.
She said: "Many people have lost loved ones, jobs and people’s mental and physical health have suffered.
“The virus has also exposed and amplified existing health inequalities in Redbridge and across the country, especially in those from a BAME background.
"One of the reasons Redbridge had such a high infection rate and been hit hard by the economic impact of Covid-19 is due to the high number of frontline workers in the borough.
“The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme was fantastic news. Just under 100,000 people have received the first dose of the vaccine in Redbridge and I encourage everyone else who is eligible to get their vaccination to keep themselves and loved ones safe.”
Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Read said the national day of reflection was needed to mark the loss suffered this year and show support for those who are grieving.
He said: "We cannot simply stand by and not recognise the effects the pandemic has had on the bereaved. We know people are in shock, confused, upset, angry and unable to process what has happened.
“The national day of reflection gives us a moment to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of everyone that has died, as well as show our support to family, friends and colleagues who are bereaved during these challenging times – from Covid and other causes.”
Throughout the past year, the council delivered 904 care packages to families not in permanent housing with school-age children.
Additionally, 78,805 packed lunches were delivered to vulnerable children and around 300 rough sleepers received accommodation, support and intervention through the government's Everyone In campaign.
A further 43 rough sleepers have been supported off the streets as a result of the cold weather and the second wave of Covid since Christmas.
A team of five council officers have knocked on around 11,000 doors to provide information and handed out 6,674 home test kits since the service was first launched.
Throughout the week, the council will be sharing Covid-19 stories from the community to highlight those who suffered but came together to fight the pandemic.