The challenges brought on by the Pandemic and its impact on those living in Bath & North East Somerset has been brought to life in a series of personal memories from nine people set out in the annual B&NES Director of Public Health report.
Published today the report entitled Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary People – a Time Like No Other, amplifies the voices of local people and organisations who responded to the pandemic.
The experiences of a GP, nurse, health care worker, headteacher and charity workers among others are shared in the annual report, which also focuses on the vaccination and Covid testing roll out in Bath and North East Somerset, as well as essential support provided by the Community Wellbeing Hub.
Becky Reynolds, Director of Public Health, said: “The last few years have been like no others. The COVID-19 pandemic took so much from so many; loved ones lost, school days halted, lives forever altered. Yet amongst this, across Bath and North East Somerset we have seen communities rise to the challenges we have faced, with services and individuals coming together to support each other and the most vulnerable in our communities.
”The first chapter of my report outlines the actions we as a council took to provide testing, vaccination and wellbeing support. The second chapter of the report focuses on children, young people and families. As we move towards living safely and fairly with COVID-19 still circulating, we want to highlight the investment we are putting into supporting children and families. Finally, we look at the investments we are making in making our local places more healthy spaces to thrive and live long and healthy lives.”
The report acknowledges that generally, the majority of children and young people in Bath and North East Somerset are healthy and enjoy opportunities to keep well and do well in education.
However, it says that during the past two years children and young people have lost out on vital education and social activity, and, due to their age, have spent a larger proportion of their lives living with the constraints and stresses that the pandemic has brought.
And it focuses on the importance of our local places in order to provide the right building blocks such as streets that are easy to walk and cycle along, clean air, parks and green spaces, good jobs, warm housing, supportive communities, good food and other opportunities.
Directors of Public Health have a statutory requirement to write an independent annual report on the health of their population to raise awareness and understanding of local health issues, highlight areas of specific concern and make recommendations for change.
Six recommendations have been set out for Bath & North East Somerset. These are:
1. Implement the B&NES Living Safely and Fairly with COVID-19 Plan that sets out a framework for how individuals, employers, and institutions can support our ongoing collective efforts to prevent, protect, and respond to COVID-19 in the coming years.
2. Further strengthen the targeted action to support children, young people and families outlined in the Children and Young People’s Plan: • Tackling poverty (including food, digital and socioeconomic) • Improving children and young people’s emotional and mental health • Narrowing the gap (reducing inequalities)
3. Ensure that the new B&NES Local Plan and the B&NES Economic Strategy that are being developed, both maximise their potential to reduce inequalities and make it easier for people to live healthy lives.
4. Update and implement the B&NES Health and Wellbeing Strategy, ensuring it has a strong focus on addressing inequalities.
5. The NHS to increasingly embed prevention and inequalities action into its priorities, and be helped to increasingly support social and economic development in B&NES.
6. All partners of the Health and Wellbeing Board, the Integrated Care Alliance, and the Future Ambitions Board, commit to and deliver on action to improve health and reduce the inequalities that previously existed and have been highlighted as a result of the pandemic.
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Communities, said: “I’d like to thank our Director of Public Health Becky Reynolds for her report. The pandemic was an extraordinary time for each and every one of us and it is important that the stories of local people, who were at forefront of the response, are heard. The report also demonstrates new ways of working together to improve health and reduce the inequalities and I welcome the recommendations that have been set out.”