A message from Kenneth Gibson MSP
During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, there were few silver linings. One was undoubtedly the reduction of air pollution as lockdowns took place around the world. Another, that the toughest restrictions were in the spring and summer. For many of us, lockdown would have been far more challenging without the chance to go for a walk in the sunshine or a run in the park.
Now the nights are drawing in at an alarming rate, and we find ourselves careering towards winter once again. I’ve written in the Voice for Arran before about the importance of wellbeing and staying safe in winter, but with the additional challenges we are all facing this year, it bears revisiting, especially as restrictions intensify once more.
I understand the feelings of fear and frustration that the current rise in cases can elicit. We have all made tremendous sacrifices this year to protect ourselves and our communities, and we must now once again restrict our contact with each other to ensure this progress is not lost.
We also worked hard over lockdown to keep in touch with friends and family, to nurture our communities and to build new ones.
Winter can be a time of loneliness and isolation at the best of times. We never truly know who needs our support. This winter, with all the challenges we face, this has never been more true. So please, continue to keep in touch with friends and neighbours as we approach winter. Small gestures like quick phone call to check in, an invitation to a virtual event, or an offer to help with shopping can all go a long way to building relationships and reminding people they are not alone.
Flu vaccinations always play a vital role in protecting vulnerable people in our communities over winter. This year, with COVID cases on the rise once more, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to protect ourselves and the NHS against influenza.
The Scottish Government has extended the criteria for who can request a free flu vaccine. People who live in the same house as those previously shielding and those in the 55-64 age category are now eligible for the first time. By increasing the availability of the vaccine in this way, we can better prepare the NHS to cope with demand this coming winter.
For full information on who is eligible for a free flu vaccine, and to find out how to request one, please visit https://www.nhsinform.scot/
If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness or isolation, the services below offer advice and support:
Advice line: 0800 678 1602
Helpline: 116 123