Observer Column: 26 November 2021
Virus rates in our town remain high and the figures have been rising for several weeks. As ever care and consideration are needed to minimise the spread of the virus so please wear a mask whenever you can, and space and hand washing remain important. If you have symptoms the testing site in Falaise Road is open from 8am-6pm every day and you have to book online. As a result of the high number of cases there is a mobile testing unit at Pelham Place car park as well until Monday 29 November.
The best way to protect ourselves from COVID-19 is to have the vaccine. If you haven't had yours yet, the Hastings Town Hall Vaccine Centre is opening on Wednesdays as well now to offer more appointments, and the Hastings Centre also has extended hours during the week. You do not need an appointment for your first or second dose, but boosters must be booked. All the details of how to book tests and vaccinations and other information including about the Hastings Centre and the Town Hall are on our website.
Yesterday was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (White Ribbon Day) and it is the start of 16 days of action. This year's message is All Men Can, highlighting how all men should stand up and call out male violence against women. Far too many women in our town live in fear and cope daily with abuse of all forms. We are working with Safer Hastings to mark the 16 days of action and will be using our social media channels to share information about domestic violence, the forms it takes and how to get help. You can also find more information on our website.
Council officers have been working hard to process applications for the Household Support Fund. This is being funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and East Sussex County Council have asked district and borough councils to administer to those most in need. We expect that the funding we have been given will not be enough to help all those who need it, and we are calling for more money to be made available.
The climate emergency must always be at the forefront of our minds and with the ending of COP26 people are reflecting on its outcomes. We will remain focussed at the council on doing all we can to work to reduce carbon emissions in our town. There is information on our website about our agreed strategy, our action plan, and a recent report on our progress so far.
As individuals we can all take steps to reduce the demand for energy in our daily lives and many of us are doing this already. By shopping local for example, we can help reduce our transport energy need and the carbon footprint of the foods we eat, as well as keeping money circulating in the local economy.
We are a City of Sanctuary and welcome those who are seeking refuge from violence and danger in their home countries. Last week more people arrived here having made the perilous channel crossing. Thanks to the RNLI helped them to safety and to Hastings Supports Refugees and others who were there to provide hot drinks and support packages.
We heard the horrendous news this week of the deaths of 31 people who drowned while trying to cross the channel. Our thoughts are with their friends and families. We must come together to find a way of ensuring that those seeking refuge have safe ways of doing so.
If you would like to help support refugees, the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook page gives regular updates about donations that are needed and other ways you can help.
There are many people in need and many people willing to help and support them in our town. Thank you to everyone who is helping. Let's continue to care and show kindness and compassion towards each other.
Council Leader's column