People across North Yorkshire take time to pause on National Day of Reflection

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People across North Yorkshire will tomorrow (March 23) take time to pause one year on from the first lockdown.

Tomorrow, everyone is invited to take part in a national day of reflection to remember those who have died, consider the trials of the past year and look forward.

The day is spearheaded by the charity Marie Curie to reflect on our collective loss, support those who have been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.

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County Council Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “There can be few, if any, of us in North Yorkshire who have not felt the impact of the pandemic.

A county council driver prepares to deliver tests for a care sector satellite testing unit.A county council driver prepares to deliver tests for a care sector satellite testing unit.
A county council driver prepares to deliver tests for a care sector satellite testing unit.

"To date, the county has lost 1,129 lives.

"That’s more than a number, it’s personal.

"Behind every one of those 1,129 is a human story and grieving family and friends.

"This day of reflection is an opportunity to acknowledge those lives.

Saint Cecilia's staff with the thank you sign.Saint Cecilia's staff with the thank you sign.
Saint Cecilia's staff with the thank you sign.

“It is also a time to remember the challenges we have faced in the past year and the commitment, innovation and kindness of our communities that has seen us rise to meet those challenges and to support those residents who have needed extra help."

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This has included the ground-breaking work with 23 community support organisations around the county and the army of volunteers that they have organised to ensure that no-one in need of help goes without.

Since last March, volunteers have given 110,000 hours of their time to delivering shopping and other essentials as well as making more than 56,000 befriending calls and telephone check-ins.

Schools and early years settings have made great efforts to make sure that children and young people continued their education remotely during lockdown and to support the children of key workers.

At the start of the lockdown last spring, the County Council set up Buy Local, an online platform to bring together businesses serving North Yorkshire with customers.

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This will continue beyond the lifting of restrictions to showcase local businesses and help people to buy local as the economy recovers post-pandemic.

Businesses can register here, where shoppers can also search for goods and services.

Library staff and volunteers have also worked hard to keep in touch with their communities online and through a select and collect service.

Since last March, more than 270,000 e-books have been loaned and the home library service has continued to reach residents who struggle to get out and about.

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Cllr Les added: “In addition, there are the less visible heroes of the pandemic, such as social care workers, foster carers, highways teams, trading standards officers and household waste recycling centre staff, working flat out to maintain vital services across the county.

"Particularly our customer service centre colleagues, who have taken an incredible 234,653 calls during the last year.”

Operation Talla in Scarborough and Whitby, before Christmas, and similar exercises in November, saw multi-agency teams and volunteers undertaking work street-by-street to explain the Covid restrictions and to offer testing and explain the support that was available to keep people safe.

Health Improvement Officer Dan Atkinson, who was involved with Operation Talla, said he was "in awe" of how the county has pulled together.

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As the country continues to move towards further lifting of restrictions, North Yorkshire residents are reminded of the importance of not letting down their guard.

County Council Chief Executive Richard Flinton said: “Our flag at County Hall in Northallerton will by flying at half-mast as we remember those we have lost and the sacrifices people have made.

"We have come too far to allow a better tomorrow to slip away from us now so please keep going.”

Saint Cecilia’s Care Group will join in Marie Curie’s Day of Reflection to mark a year since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

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It has put up signs at all its five care centres to thank the NHS, care workers and other keyworkers for risking their lives to care for others.

Tomorrow, a candle will be lit at Saint Cecilia’s centres in Scarborough and Pickering at 12.01pm and staff will observe a minute’s silence.

From 8pm, the centres will be lit in colour to remember the lost. Across all its five centres the care group has added a thank you message to its own signs.

It reads: ‘To the doctors, nurses, carers and all keyworkers we say a huge Thank You!’.

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