The start of 2021 brings hope that this year will be a more positive one but there is no denying that the next few months will be tough as we deal with the national lockdown brought in by the Government to control the spread of COVID-19.
So many of us are already feeling isolated and this loneliness can severely affect our mental health.
Now more than ever, we need to keep our minds healthy – especially as we approach the so-called ‘Blue Monday’ next week.
At this time, it is important to keep in regular online contact with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Even though we must socially isolate we can still support each other.
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen many truly inspirational acts of kindness by individuals, charities and businesses. Who could forget the admirable Captain Sir Thomas Moore, raising money for the NHS Charities Together in the run up to his 100th birthday last spring.
In the City, I am very proud of the steps we have taken to provide a helping hand during these difficult times. Last April, the City Bridge Trust pledged £1 million to a new emergency support fund – the London Community Response Fund – throwing a lifeline to London’s community and voluntary organisations affected by the financial pressures and uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
More widely, the City of London Corporation has continued to demonstrate its commitment and dedication to improving and supporting the mental health of its residents, workers, students and rough sleepers.
Our Mental Health Street Triage is a pioneering and award-winning initiative delivered by the City Corporation, City of London Police and the East London NHS Foundation Trust, which has kindness at its heart. Forming part of the local multi-agency suicide prevention programme, it provides on-the-spot assistance to those in crisis.
And our Dragon Café in the City, provides a fortnightly programme of free, creative activities designed to promote good mental health, which can be accessed virtually during lockdown.
Finally, I would like to mention the City Wellbeing Centre, led by Tavistock Relationships with support from the City Corporation. It provides subsidised mental health and wellbeing support for those on low incomes.
If you are finding it hard to cope there are mental health services available and doctors are also keen to reassure residents across the City of London that the local NHS remains ‘open for business’. It is important you do not wait if you need urgent medical help.
We can take heart that this year, unlike last, we have a vaccine programme. But this will take time to complete so it is important we each continue to play our part in trying to stop the spread of this dreadful virus.
I strongly urge all Londoners to comply with the ‘stay at home’ rule that we must only leave home for specific reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to exercise or to seek medical assistance.
We also need to keep following these three, simple rules too, wash our hands, wear a face covering and socially distance. When we all do this, each and every one of us is helping to drive down infection rates, protect the NHS and save lives.
More information is available at www.citywellbeingcentre.org.