Up Front 12/20

In his audio interview with Seth Dellow, West Dorset MP, Chris Loder mentions the silver linings around the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He points to what he sees as a completely new approach to how communities support each other. We have all seen or heard about the broad range of acts of kindness and support shown by those around us over the last nine months. That community cooperation—so apparent during the last war—seems completely at odds with the anger and unkindness that sometimes seeps from digital forums onto the streets and national media. So much so that it’s easy to forget just how human and caring most people are. We are often told by authorities that those who wish to cause upheaval, discontent or terrorist carnage within a society—especially one trying to cope with one of the biggest disasters of our time—are in a very small minority. Looking through this issue there are many reminders of that truth. There is much to celebrate about hospitality and decency within the wider local community. George Streatfeild, as the current High Sheriff of Dorset, has been visiting charities and organisations around the county giving awards and highlighting some of those that should be thanked for their work before and during the pandemic. In an interview in this issue, he also points to the value of bringing different groups together, something that is often easier to do in the middle of a disaster. Jess Morency, in her article ‘19 Silver Linings’ features residents in her village of Piddlehinton. She talks of flower posies made for key workers; local food delivered to those in need and the opera singer who entertained the village with a half-hour concert each week. One of the younger residents, Imani, highlights the environment—a mantel that has been grasped by her generation from those that have voiced their warnings over decades. Imani echoes the often mentioned observation that lockdown and the pandemic have given many people pause for further thought about how we deal with environmental issues. Another resident says of the village: ‘people here are so good. Really, they’ve all just been marvellous.’ It’s a sentiment that has been heard in towns and villages all across the country and something that is worth remembering as we enter the darker days of a winter with challenges well beyond anything most of us have experienced. It may seem odd then to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but surely that has to be the goal.