Huge thank you to children and young people
I would like to use this blog to speak directly to the children and young people of Swindon and Wiltshire.
It is now almost a year since our lives were all transformed by the emergence of the Covid-19 virus and, in many ways, it has had the most dramatic impact on the youngest in our society.
You have all had to deal with so much.
Schools have been closed, exams have been cancelled, holidays, parties and celebrations no longer allowed to go ahead.
You have had to spend long periods of time at home, away from your friends and wider family, and we should not underestimate the sacrifices you have all made.
Isolation is tough at any age, but perhaps it is most acutely difficult for those who are just starting to form friendships and relationships.
Children, from toddlers right through to teenagers, rely on these social interactions to form the person they are going to become.
And I cannot imagine the wrench it must be to have all of this taken away.
So, I want to acknowledge this sacrifice and thank you all for everything you have done to keep others safe.
I know that the recent snow brought some light relief for so many of us, but, for me, it was particularly nice to see pictures on social media of our children and young people building snowmen and sledging.
Whilst I appreciate that we are in the middle of a national lockdown, I know the vast majority of people were mindful to remain sensible and it was heart-warming to have a small moment of enjoyment and excitement for the children.
But, it is also ok to admit that you are finding things hard.
Sadness, fear, anger and frustration are all very natural emotions to be feeling right now, and it is important you feel you have someone to talk to.
There is a lot of awareness about mental health and, compared to when I was young, it is brilliant to see how open you all are about this topic.
Communication is key – whether that is talking to your parents, other relatives, a teacher or your friends. Please ask for help if you need it.
Finally, I know there is a lot of ongoing discussion about when restrictions might start to be lifted and, most crucially for you, when schools may be allowed to fully reopen.
But, whatever the next few months bring, you should all feel very proud of the resilience you have shown – well done and thank you.
For further advice and guidance on supporting children and young people during the pandemic please visit www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/coronavirus-advice-suppport-children-families-parents/