I have been incredibly impressed by the remarkable spirit of volunteering springing up in communities right across South Shropshire, as younger people in particular step forward to help others, as the nation hunkers down for the onslaught of Coronavirus which confronts us.
Community groups have come together, to coordinate efforts to offer support to both those in high risk and those who do catch Coronavirus and are advised by the Government to self-isolate.
This support may help with shopping for food, collecting prescriptions, looking after children or pets or offering to buddy up with those who are at risk of social isolation, loneliness or developing mental health issues.
I was in the House of Commons to chair the Environmental Audit Select Committee last Tuesday morning, since when I was told by my whip not to return to the House of Commons for the remainder of this month. Parliament is due to rise for the Easter recess next Tuesday 31st March.
The reason being that I have a chronic lung condition. My wife and I placed ourselves in self-isolation on Tuesday afternoon, returning from London by car. So I can identify with those who are currently at home awaiting developments.
This is not preventing me from keeping in touch with what is going on. I am holding meetings by phone, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. I am arranging my advice surgeries to be conducted in the same way. I shall be more available to help constituents and to signpost them to sources of advice and practical help.
In the meantime, as chance would have it, I have sent a second round of letters with a constituency survey to several thousand constituents. While this was drafted and printed earlier this month, and is not therefore focussed on Coronavirus, it does provide a good opportunity to let me know if you have concerns about the impact of this disease on your circumstances or livelihood. Or do use it to let me know if you are in a position to volunteer to help others. The best way to return it to comply with social distancing advice is to complete it online, at www.tellphilip.com, but a freepost return envelope is also provided for those able to drop it in a nearby post box while taking exercise near home.
This will be a marathon and not a sprint, and the whole community will need support and resilience to get through these exceptional times. Please look for latest advice on the government website www.gov.uk/Coronavirus . If in need of community support due to self-isolation, or if you wish to volunteer to help, you can find your local community coronavirus support groups in your area at: