The coronavirus pandemic has challenged us all in ways we couldn't have imagined, and in an incredibly difficult time, one of the shining lights has been the extraordinary way in which communities have come together to support each other through the pandemic.
I have always been a firm believer that our county is a very special place. Yes, a place of diverse communities and landscapes, but underpinning everything is a widespread and deep commitment to those around us - those who are our neighbours, friends, family, and co-workers. So many give their time and talents for the benefit of their community, whether it is serving on a parish council or community partnership, being a school governor or a member of a village hall, park or pre-school committee. These voluntary organisations are at the heart of so much that happens in our day to day lives and there is no doubt that the past year has taken its toll in so many ways, not least on how some community organisations operate and keep going.
Last week I heard the sad news that the Ponteland Community Partnership (PCP) will close next month. This is not solely a ‘Covid closure’, but nevertheless highlights some of the challenges organisations are grappling with through this pandemic. The PCP will have served local people for nearly two decades and has done an amazing job of pushing forward projects that have improved the quality of life in that area - whether through improvements to the bridleway to encourage improved health and well-being, or galvanising action to save local greenbelt or, indeed, its final gift to the community of a youth fund to help local young people. I would like to thank all those who have volunteered their time and skills to support the many great community projects which have made a real difference in people’s lives. The sad news of the closing of the Partnership is only softened in the knowledge that the positive legacy it is leaving will continue for many years to come.
In the spirit of exactly this kind of community minded service, I have been delighted to launch my Coronavirus Community Champion Awards, created specifically to publicly recognise and thank people who have gone above and beyond to help others during this pandemic.
If you would like to nominate someone for this award please go to my website and fill out the online nomination form at: https://www.guyopperman.co.uk/campaigns/guy-opperman-mps-coronavirus-co… - let’s celebrate those who have made a difference in our community throughout the pandemic.
PHOTO: Guy Opperman MP (right) with Alma Dunigan (Chair of Ponteland Community Partnership - centre) and Veronica Jones (County Councillor – left) launching the Callerton Lane to Newcastle Airport Bridleway Project