Earlier this year among the measures put in place to deal with Covid-19, the government took the decision to suspended this years council elections. Due to take place this coming Thursday they will now happen in May 2021, we wanted to catch up with some of our local campaigners. Today we caught up with our Central Southsea campaigner Charlotte Gerada:
What have you found most challenging….and the most positive things in lockdown?
Having my birthday during lockdown was the most challenging. I usually love celebrating my birthday with family and friends – ideally extending the event for a week! But this time I was only able to mark the day with a longer than usual walk, sitting in the garden and Zooming/calling loved ones. The reality of the situation really set in that day.
In terms of the positives, it feels like there are a lot of silver linings. I can focus more on my fitness and health because I have more time now I’m working from home. I’m loving not driving at all and seeing less traffic and pollution. The sea is so clear at the moment and it’s wonderful seeing the planet healing.
What have you been doing in the community to support others? Have you been inspired by how the community is coming together?
I co-founded Portsmouth Coronavirus Support Group – a local mutual aid group to provide residents with practical and emotional support in response to Covid-19. We launched just as we went into lockdown and our Facebook group now has over 9,000 members! We recently launched a Mutual Aid Hotline too, which is serviced by volunteers every day from 8am-8pm. We’re inviting residents to put posters up in their windows to promote the service.
It’s been so inspiring seeing the community come together online. As soon as someone posts in the group to explain that they’re isolating and in need of a food item, literally dozens of people pour in to offer their support! It’s been beautiful seeing members of our community come together to support one another in lots of ways.
If you could nominate a local business who’s been helping or keeping the community going who would yours be?
Southsea Cycles has been absolutely phenomenal. They’ve been giving free bike services and accessories away to key workers to help them get to work safely. Herbies health care shop that’s just next door has been fantastic too – they’ve been delivering residents’ shopping if they’re self isolating and they’re always well stocked with the items you can’t find in most other shops, like eggs for example!
I’ve been so proud of our local businesses – they’ve been going above and beyond to provide the community with the essentials they need, in a safe and kind way.
Who would you nominate as a community hero during this crisis?
I’d have to say Fran Carabott, Pioneer Minister of St Margaret’s Community Church and his team. They’ve been providing a self-referral food bank for the local community that has grown exponentially during the lockdown. Fran and his team are doing an absolutely fantastic job of supporting those in need and putting the church at the heart of the community – often serving hundreds of people per week.
What are you looking forward to after the lock down ends?
I’m most looking forward to seeing my family and friends. By that point there probably would have been lots of birthdays past, so lots to celebrate belatedly! I’ve also really missed going out to my favourite local cafes at the weekend – I’m definitely going to be paying Southsea Coffee a visit for one of their legendary raw vegan deserts as soon as lock down ends!