Welcome to the Digital BV | Simon Hoare

Could I first congratulate those who have worked so hard to make this ‘virtual’ BVM a reality. Rural North Dorset needs its local news and this new magazine will help to provide it. I wish it the very best of luck for its future.
I was delighted when Laura, as editor, asked me to contribute a monthly column. Whether her readers are as delighted we shall wait and see!

We are all familiar with the phrase ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Covid has certainly been, and is being, a cloud hanging over our communities. While we should be relieved that the rates of infection, hospitalisation and death have been extremely low across Dorset we must not let up our guard as Covid continues to hover.
So, what is the silver lining in the Covid cloud? I would suggest that it is volunteering. We all know that there is a strong, ancient strand of self-sufficiency about rural living. Village and market town dwellers have a determination to get things done locally. We are inclined to roll up our sleeves and get on with
things. Vulnerable, shielding and many elderly residents of our far flung villages and towns have, in
very great part, survived because their local community put out a call for volunteers and they rallied
to the colours in significant number. Often anchored and co- ordinated by the town and parish councils or by Dorset Council, food has been delivered, medicines collected, welfare checked upon and support given.
In politics I often think that we should take note of the headlines that don’t have to appear – one such is ‘Mrs X left alone for weeks during Covid’ or worse ‘Mr Y died as a result of no help during Covid’. Of course, for many it has been a huge challenge and the impacts on physical and mental health are probably incalculable and yet to be fully felt. But, I think we can say that without volunteers the situation would have been a whole lot worse.
For what it is worth, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of those who have given of their time and energies to support those of our neighbours most in need. As your MP I often hear from voluntary organisations that their cohort of volunteers is dwindling, often due to age or health issues.
They worry as to whether their organisation will continue after they hang up their boots; that there is no one to pass the baton.
There will be many people who have volunteered for the first time during Covid because it was an emergency and it was all hands to the pump. Just as a dog is not just for Christmas, so volunteering isn’t just for emergencies. I have spoken to many people who tell me they have found the experience
extremely rewarding and a way of really integrating with their communities.
So, my prayer is that those who have found volunteering for the first time have been bitten by the
bug and look to continue playing their part. I would encourage local organisations to harness those new volunteers, welcome them, encourage them and get them involved. Our communities will be stronger and our local organisations will have new blood to carry them forward.

by SIMON HOARE MP

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