In these dark times, it lifted my spirits to see your recent front page feature that showed the enterprising Lois Edmunds, (Theatre Costume Maker), who is personally contributing to the anti-virus ‘war effort’ by making protective scrubs at home. Hopefully this enterprising lady will encourage many others to consider producing at home to help the desperately short PPE supplies in the UK.

One unique outcome of the unprecedented corona virus stay-at-home shutdown, is that millions of UK based students and fit people of all ages, suddenly have an enormous amount of spare time. They should be answering the urgent calls for workers in specific key areas, such as in the current farming industry. Whilst working on the land is hard, it is also one of the healthiest open places to be, where controlled low-risk 'distancing' could easily be managed.

The NFU has stated that up to 80,000 seasonal fruit and veg pickers are needed right now. Yet, despite an estimated 3,000,000 people faced with unemployment due to the current Covid-19 crisis, farmers are having to fly in cheap-labour workers from abroad to help harvest the UK's urgently needed fruit and vegetables, which otherwise could be left to rot in the ground. Surely, we are capable of surviving by adopting a rapid and sensible recruiting approach to attract UK-based people in the first instance. The times are changing and this is just the start of a new way of living for the future. Right now, the farmers need to provide proper wage levels and conditions, that attract UK-based people to harvest our food.

The dire pandemic situation has caused us all to rethink and revalue our dedicated support workers that resolutely support our community. At personal risk, they continue to deliver to our doors; collect rubbish from our homes; maintain local services, and provide essential food, fuel and energy supplies. And, as always our brilliant blue-light services are always in support

From now on, all important workers that keep the nation safe and healthy 24 hours a day, should be recognised and treated with far more respect. The farmers, supported by government, need to pay fairer wages and encourage pride in often demanding and difficult jobs. As part of the vision for a new future it’s time that dedicated service workers received their due status and rewards. The times they are a-changing, and the government and the local authorities need to motivate new lifestyle solutions immediately!

Philip Maynard, Retired Employer in Strategic Communications