‘’It was the worst of times and it was the best of times.’’, (almost) A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

We have decided to focus our efforts on supporting the community over the coming weeks.

A walk around town today really brings home the importance of this and how lucky we are to live in Otley.

En route I bumped into Ray Georgeson in Studio Seven on Newmarket.  Ray was also in buying some of their wildlife cards like the ‘Wharfedale Butterfly’ above.  He was similarly minded to send regular thoughts the way we used to, to family and friends and to support our local businesses. 

After a long chat that stretched the patience of my family, he explained the ‘Otley Shuffle’. The fact that on busy days like today you can’t get from one street to the next without bumping into people you know.

Town was definitely busy.  Our community was out in force, not panic buying as far as I could see. Rather slowing down their lives, staying close to home with more time to connect….at a safe distance of course….and determination to support our local businesses, the life blood of the town. 

There’s plenty of anxiety and uncertainty about and none more so than for small business owners.  Imagine running a café, pub or restaurant and watching the PM tell you last night that you’d served your last sit in customer for an indefinite amount of time.  As you’d expect though, the creativity and resilience needed for the trials and tribulations of running your own business were everywhere to be seen today.

Cafes selling cakes and coffees to takeaway along with their local suppliers’ bread, cheese and eggs. Butchers, bakers,……refill shops, green grocers, gardening shops and chocolatiers all offering deliveries to the housebound. (https://www.otleybid.co.uk/covid-19-otley-open-for-business/)

The pressure on these deliveries already and the offers of volunteers they have had to lend a hand, is testament to both the times we are living through and the response of the good folk of Otley.

Otley Action for Older People, Otley Courthouse, Otley Town Council and others are also in the process of arranging amazing support for those who need it and will be issuing details this week.

We’re in discussions with these and others about how we can best be of help and we’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we are hearing beautiful stories like this one about neighbourhoods getting together to support each other in ways we haven’t necessarily done for a while.

Abridged to remove personal info:

“A woman…..moved in next door to us about a year ago. She’s really lovely………On Monday she told me how scared she was about the virus, and I told her that I was starting to collect and exchange the phone numbers of people in the street……she really liked the idea and said she had loads of time, so she took the work on. Yesterday she showed me her list of over 40 signed up households, and said how much better she was feeling, and how she now really felt part of this community – she looked all bright and sparkly.

Yet more proof of the therapeutic power that community action can have when troubled and frightened people get involved!”

Even the offer of help can be profoundly powerful in easing anxiety, both giving and receiving help, especially for the most vulnerable.

The more we look out for each other the more secure we’ll all be and Leeds City Council have just issued these guidelines on how to safely look after each other https://doinggoodleeds.org.uk/news/2020/03/20/being-a-good-neighbour-202003201456/. 

There are plenty of examples of how to go about this and many of you have probably seen the following in the news https://covidmutualaid.org/.

It has handy tips and things like leaflets to drop through people’s doors to say ‘I’m here if you need me’.  If you do organise something in your street, try to do it as a group, register on their map (let’s fill it!) and let us know who’s coordinating so we can stay in touch.  Make sure that people know each other and don’t enter each other homes, not just for the importance of distancing, also for safeguarding reasons. 

As the LCC guidelines say there are already instances of doorstep fraud.  We’ll all be at home and probably out in our gardens or twitching our curtains like the biggest neighbourhood watch scheme there has ever been!

When the info drops this week about the town’s plans and other projects develop, please support them and be very proud of where we live!

Keeping a bit of distance and getting closely connected.

Best wishes

Andy Boyle

Otley 2030

http://otley2030.com/