A leading Carlisle charity campaigner says he is concerned for people’s mental health as they face up to the realities of a winter coping with Covid.
Andy Fearon, of the Give A Day initiative, says Carlisle needs to have a plan to help keep hope alive during the winter months which could be dominated by further restrictions, economic shockwaves and a second peak of coronavirus.
“It is not like anyone has been through this before and knows how to navigate this so there is some real vulnerability around and I fear for people as the clocks go back and we go into winter.
“When we had the lockdown we had some glorious weather and it felt like we were trying to get to the end of something. If you know you’ve got a marathon to run and you get to the end you can put in that extra effort, but now I think it feels to some people like they got to the end and somebody’s told them to turn around and run back,” he said.
Andy has inspired hundreds of people and businesses to volunteer their time through Give A Day and his work at the Carlisle Vineyard Church. Now he hopes Carlisle can map out some dates and activities to give people some positive landmarks to aim for during the winter and support those who have been working flat out since March to help the vulnerable.
Already, the Give A Day initiative has distributed 1500 ‘Bags of Courage’ and 150 hampers with donations from businesses including Yorkshire Tea and McVities. with support from Carlisle City council and Cumbria County Council. They have been used to give a boost to teachers, NHS frontline staff and people working with those with addiction and others.
And at Petteril Bank School during the summer a staff room was renovated and turned into a lounge complete with a coffee maker and supply of beans thanks to the generosity of Electricity North West, Howdens Kitchens, Network plus, Bruce and Luke, Johnstone’s Paint and Vineyard Church.
“We did it secretly over the summer holiday and wanted to communicate something to the teachers to say ‘we know this is not easy’. Space to talk is going to be happening in Carlisle City centre every Friday as a safe space for people to have someone to talk to. With all the stuff going on, it’s OK if there’s fear in your heart and OK to be a bit worried, but not OK to keep it all inside.”
The Give A Day initiative was given £3,000 by the Cumberland Building Society this year to help continue with its work which helped fund its Bags of Courage.
Andy said: “These things couldn’t happen without The Cumberland - they have always been amazingly supportive.”
Becky Towns, CSR & Communications Executive at The Cumberland, said: “We were pleased to be able to support Andy and his volunteers. They are helping to make sure the goodwill and generosity we have seen this year is carried through into the winter when people will need it even more.”