Lessons from the Covid pandemic: we need a revolution!

Food bank use has tripled in Brent over the summer. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA

The Bridge Park facility has been delivering up to 800 food parcels a week - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

“If we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values” - Martin Luther King Jnr.

As we move to open up the country further on April 12, we need to review what type of society we want to open up to, post-pandemic.

Over the last year, communities across Brent - and across the country - have come together, to protect and support the most vulnerable. With the vaccination programme led by our NHS, supported  by faith and community groups in the borough, we are almost there - almost out of this catastrophic pandemic; catastrophic for people’s health, mental wellbeing and their livelihoods. And it is a pandemic which has exposed the criminal levels of inequality and depravity we have in our society.

Cllr Ihtesham Malik Afzal, Preston ward

Cllr Ihtesham Malik Afzal says the pandemic has emphasised the inequalities in society - Credit: Cllr Ihtesham Malik Afzal

So as things open back up safely, one thing we cannot do is go back to the way things were. Because of the way things were, we have kids starving on the street; our elderly are having to choose between buying food, or paying for heating; we have teachers buying food for their hungry students; food bank use is growing exponentially, with a decimation of support structures and safety nets for the poor.

Our society has failed; failed our young, failed our vulnerable, failed the poor and the hungry. But we can do better. We need to do better. From politicians enacting policies which speak to solving the inequalities, the poverty, the deprivation and division in society, we need to do better. From the super rich, playing their part - in giving back to communities, through paying their share of tax, as a minimum, we need to do better. From businesses and organisations supporting workers, providing  jobs that pay liveable wages, we need to do better. From our media, being on the side of the dispossessed and holding privilege and power to account, we need to do better.

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In short, we need a revolution; a wholesale restructure of society. A restructure that speaks to understanding, and improving the material conditions of the least amongst us. Anything less, and we haven’t learnt the lessons of this pandemic.

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