Council boss hopes for 'better days ahead' as Sunderland marks a year of life in lockdown

Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Millers hopes “there are better days ahead” as the city reflects on one year of life in lockdown.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:00 am
Cllr Graeme Miller

The nation is to pause in remembrance of those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic, one year after the UK was first plunged into lockdown.

A national day of reflection, organised by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, will take place today, March 23.

A minute’s silence will be held at 12pm followed by a bell toll, and people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.

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Looking back on the past 12 months, Cllr Miller said: “It's only right and correct that we now look back on what has happened over the last year.

“Very sadly our city has had more than 800 deaths involving Covid-19 and behind each and every one of these are grieving families and friends. Please take a moment at noon to reflect on this.

"It has been incredibly tough being unable to visit hospitals, the limits on the numbers at funerals, and not being able to see our loved ones in care homes.

"There can be few of us a year ago who could have thought or imagined the many dreadful impacts Covid has had on all our lives.

"While there were hopes last summer that the worse was over, it plainly wasn't.

"It’s been tough not always being able to meet up with family, friends and work colleagues, many have been furloughed as businesses suffer, and others have lost their jobs.

"Yet, our city already had a great community spirt and that has never wavered as thousands pitched in to help others who may be less fortunate than themselves.

"We have seen and continue to see neighbours and volunteers working tirelessly and across all our communities with people looking out for other. Covid has put a fresh focus on our collective action with the 'stay at home' messages and the face, space guidance which apply as much now as they did a year ago.

"We have over the last year seen a spotlight shone on the public service and front-line workers who have kept our health and many vital services running and we pay tribute to them as we reflect. Covid has highlighted inequalities across the country alongside the challenges and role that we can and must all play in protecting ourselves and others.

"We can all hope, with this reflection, and our combined efforts, that there are brighter days ahead.”

More than 250 organisations are supporting the day of reflection, including 82 leaders from religious groups and cross-party politicians, care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups.

Churches and cathedrals will toll bells, light thousands of candles and offer prayers to mark the lockdown anniversary.

Nursing staff will also pause to say thank you to members of the public for their year of sacrifice, and remember the loss of friends, colleagues and patients.