Throughout July I have been celebrating independent businesses and producers across Delyn who have adapted the way they work to both continue to serve our communities and to ensure their staff and customers’ safety, promoting the simple message of #LoveLocal.

Last week I announced over £5 million will be available from Welsh Government to support town centres in their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Town Centres and High Streets are often the heart of our communities right across the country, as they are here in Mold, Flint and Holywell. It has been great to get out and about speaking to local businesses about their experiences of reopening safely, as well as learning more about the “Totally Mold” scheme, encouraging shoppers to buy gift vouchers for participating shops, cafes and other businesses. We need to do all we can to ensure that our town centres don’t simply survive but thrive. This is chance to both support the safe reopening of our town centres and also to look again at how we can make the most of our public spaces and make them work for our communities in the current circumstances and potentially beyond.

This recovery is also a key chance for us to review our public spaces and facilities to better ensure they are suitable for those with additional needs, to allow them to have a positive experience in our town centres and high streets. At a virtual meeting hosted by the FDF Centre for Independent Living I listened to the impact that the pandemic has had, particularly on people with disabilities and heard suggestions on how we can change the way we live in the future to become more inclusive as communities and indeed as a wider society. If you or a loved one has a disability and have faced additional challenges through the pandemic, and have ideas for the future or something I may be able to help you with, then please do let me know.

The last few months have brought challenges to many of us, whether around our employment or childcare arrangements, or our health and wellbeing, the pandemic has affected us all in different ways. That is why I believe it is important now, more than ever, to remind people that – Its OK to not be OK. The pressures we have faced as individuals and as a country have been enormous and each of us will have reacted to them in our own way.

But it is important to recognise there is support out there for those who need it. You may need to talk about the impact on your health and wellbeing, or to seek support with finding a new job or with childcare arrangements. Whatever it is I would encourage you to reach out and speak to someone to find that comfort and support you may need. Each of us also has a responsibility to reach out and check in on others – one thing the pandemic has done is rebuild a sense of community spirit and we should do our best to keep it going.

Community centres and church halls are also key in our communities, providing a space for families, friends and even new faces to come together to socialise and support one another. From Monday this week these spaces were allowed to reopen, as well as children’s play areas, to bring back an element of socialising for children and families in public spaces, with good hand hygiene and social distancing in practice.

A few weeks ago I attended a meeting arranged by Parkfields Community Centre to hear the concerns of community centres and church halls about what the future meant for them, but also their great ideas to be able to reopen and continue to serve their communities as best as they possibly can. I look forward to being able to hear of the ways in which centres and halls across Delyn open in the coming weeks and about what they have organised to help their communities.

I am currently making plans to get out and about – safely – across the constituency over the summer period, speaking to businesses and organisations about what they have done in recent months, but also being on hand to support constituents. Although I have been holding virtual advice sessions I know that it is often easier to raise concerns face to face, so if you see me out and about in your area and would like a chat, please say hello!

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