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‘Learning to live with Covid’ Newsletter from Helen Whately

Learning to live with Covid

For the past 18 months our lives have been determined by Covid.

It has cancelled plans, pushed businesses to the brink, and taken loved ones from us. While the pandemic is far from over, our phenomenal vaccine rollout has put us in a position where we can begin to learn to live with the virus.

Thank you to everyone continuing to work or volunteer in our local vaccination centres who’ve helped make this moment possible. Over 2.2 million vaccinations have been given out across Kent, with two thirds of adults in the county having received both jabs.

I know just how important easing restrictions has been for local businesses – especially our pubs and the hospitality sector, and in making life worth living again for so many people.

In the months ahead I’ll continue supporting people and businesses affected by Covid and do everything I can to help our local NHS and councils through these crucial next few months.

More than at any point in the pandemic, people need to use their judgement to help keep the virus under control. Everyone can play their part by taking up the offer of being vaccinated and getting tested regularly.

It’s up to all of us to think about how our actions and decisions can keep ourselves and others safe. If we’re on a crowded train or busy shop, then wearing a face mask is the sensible thing to do. Check the latest guidance to see what you can do to help.

We have our freedoms back, let’s use them carefully.

Supporting our NHS

It’s wonderful to see the dream of a Kent Medical school finally become a reality

In the NHS’s history, no year has been as tough as the last.

To mark the NHS’s birthday, the Queen awarded the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom in recognition of their service over the past 73 years.

We now have over 45,300 more staff in the NHS compared to a year ago, including nearly 9,000 more nurses and over 4,000 more doctors. Thank you to each and every one for their extraordinary efforts over the past year.

Following the pay review bodies’ recommendation, NHS staff will be getting a 3% pay rise – worth on average £1,000 per year for nurses, with porters and cleaners receiving around £540 extra per year.

More money for our schools

It was fantastic to open the new Art and Technology Block at The Abbey School recently
Schools in Faversham and Mid Kent have been allocated £59 million by the Department for Education – up £4 million on last year.

This is on top of pupil premium funding in Kent increasing by 7 per cent to £64 million. Minimum funding levels will mean that every primary school will receive at least £4,265 per pupil, and every secondary school at least £5,525 per pupil.

I’ve heard first-hand that our fairer funding formula is already making a difference to schools that have historically been under funded.

This month has also seen a number of our schools take part in virtual visits to Parliament – including The Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Park Wood and Oaks Primary Academy in Shepway.

Backing our tourism businesses

With the new CEO of Leeds Castle, Helen Bosner-Wilton

It was great to visit Leeds Castle again recently to meet their new Chief Executive.

I know the past year has been incredibly tough for tourism and hospitality businesses. I’m glad the Government has published a new strategy to help the sector back on its feet.

Our hospitality strategy includes £352 million in extra support, plans to make it easier for our pubs and restaurants to offer outside dining, and action to help the sector to go greener by reducing emissions and cutting single-use plastics.

With summer here, and restrictions eased, there’s never been a better time to support our local hospitality businesses. For some inspiration take a look at Visit Kent