“We have all been in the same storm – but we have not been in the same boat.”
That’s the message from Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman, whose latest annual report shows how the pandemic has exposed and worsened inequalities across Gateshead.
Behind the masks: Gateshead’s Covid stories brings together personal accounts of the pandemic from residents and the professionals who support them. It focuses on how Covid-19 has disproportionately affected those from deprived communities – with their housing, type of employment and lifestyles all contributing to their risk of catching the virus, and how ill they’re likely to get when they do.
Alice explained: “Covid-19 has highlighted and exacerbated the growing gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ across the UK. Life has been hard for everyone but if your home was overcrowded, or you had no outside space, you struggled to afford to heat your home, feed your family, provide a laptop so your kids didn’t fall behind at school or you were furloughed or lost your job, it’s likely that the pandemic has been even tougher for you than others.
We’re still seeing statistics on the news every day and this helps to show the big picture, but we mustn’t forget that behind every number lies a human story. That’s why I wanted this report to tell Gateshead’s Covid stories through the voices of our communities and partners.”
The report also celebrates how communities and organisations across Gateshead came together to support each other through the pandemic. It calls for continued collaboration and re-vitalised and re-focused action on tackling inequalities.
Alice continued: “Covid-19 has created many challenges for everyone who lives and works in Gateshead and its impact has been devastating, but we also have a lot to be proud of. We have seen what can be achieved when we all work together towards a shared goal.
Far too many people have suffered bereavement, loss and hardship on an unprecedented scale and so many people have worked tirelessly and selflessly to get us through. We owe it to them to learn from the pandemic and make Gateshead a place where everyone thrives.”