‘Tomorrow will be a good day’ hopes Mayor
In March 2020 when the government first announced the countrywide lockdown in an attempt to combat the devastating impact of Covid-19, no-one could have imagined that one year later we would still be facing restrictions, with shops, bars and restaurants closed, and many separated from their families for months on end.
Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, and the restrictions still in place one year on, Lisburn is a resilient city and its people have proven time and time again that when the worst happens, they pull together to support their community.
The Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Nicholas Trimble has praised the ‘compassion’ of the people of Lisburn during these difficult months. “Twelve months ago all of our lives changed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Mayor. “As the lockdown rolled out across the country we prepared ourselves for a hard couple of months in an air of trepidation but also camaraderie.
“However, I don’t think any of us at that time thought that we would still be in lockdown a whole year later. Every aspect of our lives has been affected in some way. We have been distanced from friends and family; we have home-schooled our children; many businesses and local facilities have been closed; and tragically across Northern Ireland we have lost over 2,100 people to the virus.”
Acknowledging the loss of many lives from the pandemic, the Mayor revealed that the council aims to have a permanent reminder of those who are no longer with us due to Covid-19. “This week we held a one minute silence to reflect on our collective loss in the UK due to coronavirus,” he continued. “The passing of a friend or family member at any time is always tragic, but the coronavirus has restricted our own ability to grieve in the normal way, many of us not even able to attend the funerals of our loved ones.
“Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is currently looking for the views of its residents on a dedicated reflective space to remember all those we have lost to coronavirus and it is my hope that this may help those who have been bereaved through the pandemic.”
Whilst the pandemic and the lockdown have been a huge challenge for the people of Lisburn, Mr Trimble has seen for himself how much the community has pulled together throughout this period of adversity. “Through all the misery that COVID-19 has caused, however, I have seen first-hand the huge capacity that our community has for compassion,” he said. “When lockdown first struck, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council started distributing weekly food parcels to those who were shielding and unable to go to the shops themselves.
‘‘However the council were helped by literally hundreds of volunteers who gave their time freely to make sure that nobody went without during lockdown. I have seen community groups build support networks with each other to help out when and where they can, and I have seen a huge surge in the generosity of people to help those who need it most.
“When I became Mayor in June 2020, I felt that the single biggest impact that I could have would be to help those affected by COVID-19 in any way I could.
‘‘I chose the Lisburn and Dundonald Foodbanks to support as my nominated charities for the year as they have been at the forefront of catching people who have suffered financial distress from the pandemic. Whilst it is sad that we live in a world where foodbanks have to exist, I am glad that they do as they are a real lifeline for those who need them, especially given the past 12 months.”
This has been a very difficult year for everyone, however Mr Trimble is confident that the future is bright for the people of Lisburn. “Even though we are still in the middle of a pandemic I am hopeful for the future,” he added. “I hope and pray that we will be able to get back to normal soon. The vaccine programme is going well and our continued adherence to the social restrictions is helping to keep all of us safe. In the words of the late Sir Captain Tom: ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’.”
Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is also confident that, by working together, the people of Lisburn will bounce back from this traumatic year: “There is no doubt that the past year has been very difficult and challenging for many local people, including businesses in Lisburn, many of whom have been closed for lengthy periods of time,” said Sir Jeffrey, “Whilst the government support which has been made available is welcome, it is no substitute for businesses being able to trade and provide important services for their customers.
“Lisburn has endured many difficult times in the past and has always recovered strongly and I think as we begin to look at restrictions easing and hopefully lockdown being lifted, it is vital we all pull together as a community to support local businesses, as well as each other.”