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 Charles Dickens resident and campaigner Kirsty Mellor:
What have you found most challenging….and the most positive things in lockdown?
I thrive on social interaction – I have really missed my comrades and family. I love people, talking, smiling and laughing!
Having to work from home is the new alternative to pounding the streets and knocking on doors. For me my biggest challenge has been managing my health condition, homeschooling, housekeeping and working from home.
Initially it was chaos and quite stressful. Nonetheless,the boys and I created spaces in our flat;they include:
Work Space, Exercise Space, Relaxation Space, Family Space and Sleeping Space.
There is always a positive and if truth be told- I have seen a glimmer of hope during such unprecedented times. Our communities have joined together in solidarity,uniting in support, mutual respect for our much loved NHS and realising that it’s the working class and key workers who keep our country going. Good old fashioned community spirit, neighbours talking to each other, the clap for carers, rainbows, window bingo and Mutual Aid are just some of the many positives in our city.
What have you been doing in the community to support others? Have you been inspired by how the community is coming together?
I have been involved in setting up support for residents of Portsmouth via a Facebook group called Portsmouth Coronavirus Support Group. We soon realised that there was a huge gap in provision in the city- ten years of austerity has damaged our vital services, leaving cracks and weaknesses. We wanted to fill those gaps – ensuring no one slips through the cracks and that everyone gets the support they need during lockdown. We have been working solidly on an extension of Portsmouth Coronavirus Support Group, and last week we launched our mutual aid hotline. It’s available 7/7 from 08:00 to 20:00 offering ad-hoc support to residents who need help during social isolation. We also refer long term support needs and formal requests to relevant organisations in the city. So many wonderful people have come forward to offer their skills,time and care. Portsmouth people always pull together when times are tough,and I feel honored to be part of such a great city.
I know that this is a difficult and worrying time for everyone, but particularly for adults and children experiencing domestic abuse and the professionals working hard to support them. Domestic abuse killings have more than doubled since the Covid-19 lockdown began. As a survivor of domestic abuse I know all too well the horrors victims of domestic violence experience under normal circumstances – I fear for those who are trapped in abusive relationships during Lockdown. The pressure of Lockdown has increased abusive behaviour from perpetrators, it’s important that people realise one thing and I want to make that clear – Covid-19 and lockdown are not to blame for violence, perpetrators are! I have been raising awareness around these issues- highlighting; local and national campaigns, in an effort to support those trapped in abusive relationships and those who work with them. Alongside Stephen Morgan MP we wrote a joint letter to Priti Patel highlighting the urgency and need for adequate funds for domestic abuse services,calling on the government to do all in its power – ensuring no further life is lost to the hands of perpetrators.
I have also been supporting residents in my block with a petition, highlighting the poor attention to maintenance at Aggie Weston House. Residents, many of whom have disabilities, have been left without a lift for a considerable amount of time.Therefore with the support of Cllr Corkery, we put together an e-petition in hope that action is taken urgently.
If you could nominate a local business who’s been helping or keeping the community going who would yours be?
There is absolutely no hesitation with this question. For me it’s got to be Gavin Randall, Enable Ability, The Lady Hamilton and the team at Landport Community Centre working in conjunction, tirelessly providing hot meals and yummy puddings to the people of Charles Dickens. The team has now expanded to cover other areas in the city – so far they have provided 2000 hot meals free of charge. Having volunteered myself to deliver some of those meals with Cllr Corkery, I can see the work they are doing is outstanding. It’s heartwarming to see the joy on peoples faces. A little bird tells me that there have been some rather delightful helpers in the kitchen, who cause the team to swoon – I wonder why 🙂
What are you looking forward to after the lock down ends?
The Pompey Labour Party Party! We love a good socialist shin-dig.