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It’s been 100 days since lockdown began.
For everyone, these have been unprecedented months – from the closure of schools and non-essential shops to 2m social distancing, shielding and isolation and families and friends separated to keep communities safe.
But across the county, brilliant frontline workers adapted efficiently and quickly to ensure the transition was as smooth as it could be for everyone.
Right from the start of lockdown 100 days ago to now, North Yorkshire’s care workers, school workers, volunteers and residents have put their all into supporting each other to adapt to a new normal.
We take a look at the last 100 days to see how North Yorkshire has adapted to a set of critically challenging, difficult and often scary circumstances.
Health and Adult Services
Workers across Health and Adult Services spanning the county were quickly adapting to a completely new way of working.
There are 17,000 people working in the care sector in North Yorkshire – each one of them provide a service fundamental to keeping people safe and cared for.
Everyone across the care sector pulled together to absorb any extra work that came with Covid-19 and teams have worked 24/7 to transform services to protect our most vulnerable people in care settings and out in the community.
For Carol McKenzie, this meant delaying her retirement from the Airedale District Command Centre and postponing a full-time life sheep shearing on her farm in the Yorkshire Dales.
I was set to retire in March and the Sunday before I was due to finish I got a call asking if I could stay.
Because I knew the job, I thought it was the right thing to do – it would be hard for a new person to learn whilst having to do everything virtually.
It was in the middle of lambing season though which my husband was hoping I could help with – sometimes I’d be in a virtual meeting and there’d be some funny noises because I’d be feeding a lamb at the same time.
Carol – like others working in discharge command centres – has adapted her way of working from being largely face-to-face to over video calls and the phone.
Her health colleagues make the trusted assessment referral on patients and feed back to her.
Carol communicates with a patient’s family over the phone, with her and her team ensuring they are readily available to answer any questions.
Creative thinking on what service users and their loved ones need has been seen in every area of care.
Care homes across North Yorkshire received technology to enable residents to contact their loved ones during lockdown – so even though they couldn’t be face-to-face, they could still see each other’s faces.
And Charlotte Finch, a social worker in Craven, was praised by service user Esta Watson when she went the extra mile.
Esta, who is deaf and has autism, requires regular contact – something which isn’t possible during a pandemic.
So Charlotte set up video calls every Friday with Esta to provide structure and routine.
We’ve prepared her to use things like Zoom by doing games of bingo – me, Esta and her personal assistant played and Esta was the bingo caller.
It’s about letting her practice, making her feel comfortable and providing a bit of consistency in these bizarre times. If she has any questions, she knows every Friday I’m going to be there.
Richard Webb, Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services, said:
100 days and so many people we all want to thank. It really has felt like Team North Yorkshire and from a public health and social care point of view, it has been a privilege to work with colleagues across the council, the NHS, other public services and with volunteers and local communities. Night, day, weekends: the continued effort has been inspiring, exhilarating and humbling.
As we reach this milestone, it’s a time to acknowledge the hard work, to mark what we have achieved, to remember and mourn for those we have lost, and to look ahead to the future as response and recovery go hand in hand.
I want to thank everyone for their commitment and dedication and, on a personal level, I would like to thank colleagues who have looked out for each other, including those of you who have done that for me. We are all human and, in the last few months, we have all had to juggle the personal and the professional and the tough times with the good ones.
Schools across North Yorkshire were also faced with exceptional circumstances when they closed due to the pandemic.
Although the county council pulled out all the stops with school staff to create widespread provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children, the majority of students (and parents) were tasked with learning from home with the help and support of teachers.
And some students took on more unconventional home learning projects.
When Dylan Simpson, five, discovered a baby starling in his sister’s bedroom, he decided to use his time at home to raise the bird, named Jack.
He did research on starlings to discover exactly what Jack could eat and how to properly look after him, before releasing him back into the garden after five weeks.
Dylan, a pupil at Whitley and Eggborough Community Primary, was praised by his head teacher Sarah Langridge for his ability to take care of the bird.
When it was announced that schools could begin to reopen, teachers and school workers across the county pulled together to begin risk assessments and implementing measures to make sure pupils were as safe as possible.
Measures included one-way systems around the buildings, social-distant markings on the floor and social “bubbles” for children to stay in to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
Students had to get their heads around hand washing and social distancing – something which pint-sized performer Henry Sangster, five, did very well.
Henry, from Richmond Methodist Primary School, filmed a video of himself explaining social distancing measures to make sure his friends understood what school life would be like before they went back.
Henry’s parents, Jessica and Ross, said:
Henry has been home schooling during lockdown. We had received guidance from the school the previous evening about the measures which will be in place for the children returning.
So we decided to put a video together introducing the guidance to Henry in a fun way.
Students at Hutton Rudby Primary School also showed their social distancing abilities when they filmed a video showing them practicing the 2m safe distance.
Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services, said:
It’s been fantastic to see how children in the county have coped with the changes brought about during Covid-19 and lockdown.
And of course, teachers and school workers across North Yorkshire pulled together from day one to provide resources for home learning.
The schools that have gone back have done so in an incredibly safe way, focussing on the wellbeing of their students as well as the curriculum.
It’s been a brilliant effort by everyone involved and I’d like to say thank you for that.
Support in the community
When lockdown was announced in March, North Yorkshire County Council began co-ordinating efforts with 23 community organisations spanning the length and breadth of the county.
These organisations became “hubs” – a single point of contact within the community for those in need of help, pulling together any other support organisations in the area.
More than 1,500 volunteers have been helping thousands of people every week with shopping, collecting prescriptions or just having someone to talk to as part of this network of community support organisations.
There are also countless examples of neighbours looking out for each other and an army of volunteers who have formed groups where they live.
Those volunteers include Joanna Chambers from Marton, who is currently shielding to protect her nine-year-old son, William.
During lockdown Joanna has been helping by making regular befriending calls to others who are self-isolating through the community support organisation in Ryedale.
My befriending experience has been so positive as I have been able to reach out to people I would never have met before at a time when I felt particularly isolated and unable to take positive action due to my own shielding situation.
North Yorkshire businesses also used their resources to help others.
From Major Tom’s Social in Harrogate serving hundreds of free pizzas up to key workers to three gin distilleries – Mason’s Gin, Spirit of Masham and Harrogate Tipple – making hand sanitiser, community spirit has been strong throughout lockdown.
And one outstanding individual, William Stainton, took it upon himself to make PPE for care homes in Scarborough and Bridlington.
William, 13, a young carer for his dad Kevin, created more than a thousand ear savers and face shields with a 3D printer he bought with some money saved for a holiday.
North Yorkshire County Council’s Buy Local initiative, enabling businesses and tradespeople who could work under Covid-19 conditions to link up with customers who needed their services.
600 businesses are registered, including Out of the Box! In Richmond, an eco-friendly food shop.
Owners Janet and Roger Nutting started to send out stock lists to customers and take orders and offer a collection service, instead of their usual self-service set up.
When we have sent out our full list of stock to customers, they’ve been surprised at the range of items we sell – we’ve also started providing different items on request.
We have definitely had new customers so we hope this means more people are shopping local – we want to make sure we are offering what the community needs.
To support shoppers and local businesses, North Yorkshire County Council closed the high street.
Working closely with district and borough councils, North Yorkshire County Council put these measures in place to enable social distancing and to encourage walking and cycling.
Paul Beswick, of Beswick’s Fruit and Veg, said:
We have a nice wide pavement for everybody to walk on so I think people are feeling a lot safer to be out and about. Our stall has got hand sanitiser, Perspex screening and our baskets are being wiped after each customer. Hopefully we can all get back to normal safe and well.
Ruth English, of Winnie’s Yorkshire Delights, said:
It’s great to be back on the market. Not only from a business point of view but to have a chat and see how customers are getting on. We have made it as safe as possible and we are here to help.
Gary Fielding, Corporate Director for Strategic Resources, said:
The way our community has pulled together has been utterly astonishing.
There’s been an outpouring of people willing to lend their services to help those who need it – from volunteering, to checking on their neighbours to make sure they are alright.
The community has adapted astonishingly well to try and ensure no-one slips through the cracks during lockdown.
Along with our wonderful key workers, they are the ones that have kept North Yorkshire running.
Videos: Henry Sangster’s social distancing
Major Tom’s Pizza for Key Workers
Thornton le Dale VE Day project
No Wrong Door song