As we approach the end of the first week of the fire break period, I again want to say thank you to everyone here in Flintshire who is playing their part in the national effort to keep our communities safe. With each day that passes it is clear that the coronavirus is still with us and we must continue to do all we can to limit the spread of the virus and save lives.
Many constituents have contacted me to share their views both in support and in opposition of the restrictions on non-essential items being sold in supermarkets. As well as responding to individual enquiries, I have used my own social media to clarify the situation and give some context to the decision, as well as explaining the discretion available to supermarkets.
The intention of the restrictions and guidance during this period is for people to only shop for essentials that we really need, so we all reduce the contact we have with other people and the risk of coming into contact with the virus – this will help reduce the spread of the virus. The virus thrives wherever people are, especially indoors.
I must emphasise that supermarkets are able to use their discretion depending on specific circumstances and actual need. For example, an elderly pensioner whose kettle has broken and is unable to shop online – a supermarket could apply discretion and sell them a kettle.
During this period, we all have to ask ourselves do we actually need to buy this item? Can it wait two weeks? Or can we buy it another way or from elsewhere? (including from our local and independent high street retailers, many of which are offering deliveries now).
Continuing the theme of “Love Local” I am again using my platform to promote our fantastic local businesses that continue to adapt the way they operate, to continue providing for our communities. Many businesses have adopted deliveries as their “new normal” which means that we can continue to access their products and services during this period, and importantly help to keep them going.
To find out more about the businesses I am highlighting or to suggest a business you think should be recognised and promoted, please visit my Facebook page – Hannah Blythyn MS.
The Welsh Government have made almost £300 million available to businesses across Wales to support them through the fire break period, with grants available based on rateable values and to cover loss of income. This includes additional funding from the Welsh Government to discretionary assistance funds. These funds are to support businesses in retaining their staff, helping to keep people here in Delyn in their jobs, and also for individuals to access support if they, sadly, fall into difficulties.
It is clearly key that our businesses are aware of the support available to them and are able to access it. That is why I have written directly to almost 100 businesses across the constituency, as well as sharing information through my social media, to ensure that businesses are aware that they are not alone.
This week we have also seen many of our businesses offer their support once again to the most vulnerable in our communities. Following on from the campaign led by Marcus Rashford MBE, multiple businesses in the constituency have begun to offer free meals and snacks to school children and their families during the half-term break.
This community spirit is well and truly amazing. No family should be in a position where they do not know where their next meal is coming from – either during the school term, or the holidays. Here in Flintshire and across Wales, the Welsh Government has guaranteed an additional £13 million to provide free school meals throughout school holidays until Easter 2021. Locally that means that Flintshire County Council and our schools, will be supporting over 1000 children throughout the holidays.
On a lighter note, as an Evertonian I never thought I would be cheering on Man Utd player but credit where credit is due to Marcus – there are many that could learn a thing or too from him.
We are still living in challenging times and I want constituents to know that I am available to support them as much as I can. Housing, transport, health, finances – if you have any queries or concerns, about these topics, or indeed any other, please do get in touch with me. I am still on hand.
Please email Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales or call 01352 762102 and I will do my best to support you.