A High Sheriff in isolation is a slight contradiction in terms – there isn’t a lengthy job specification but there is a requirement to get out and about. April has been spent locked inside with the smart new uniform proudly hanging in the cupboard – but life has been busy all the same.
As we all struggle to find the ‘new normal’ I have spent as much time as possible liaising with the charities, with the voluntary sector and supporting those who are doing the most incredible work to assist the less fortunate members of our communities. As Emily Maitlis so wisely said in her introduction to Newsnight some weeks ago – ‘they tell us that Coronavirus is a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same. It is not – it's much much harder if you are poor’.
In these troubled times the people of Hertfordshire have rallied forth to support the vulnerable and, at the end of April, after one month, the National Emergency Fund Appeal in this county, carefully administered by the Hertfordshire Community Foundation has raised over £200,000 with a further £200,000 coming from central UK fundraising – so we have £400,000 to give out as grants to the charities in the county doing so much work to support the vulnerable.
I have spoken to many charities, their frontline staff, fundraisers and trustees – all meetings over Zoom and I have grasped a first-hand understanding of our needs and our requirements. Crime in the county may be down 30% but domestic abuse and domestic violence is up 40% bringing a stark reminder to our Police Force. Resolve have found their work load increase with drug and alcohol abuse, Herts Young Homeless, South Hill Centre, Hew Hope and Emmaus have all worked throughout the county to find accommodation and safety for the homeless and Borehamwood Foodbank has seen a 200% increase in demand for their support.
And to add a lighter touch I have read a children’s story over Zoom for Electric Umbrella, helped to hand round meals in Watford for Home Start and Small Acts of Kindness, banged my saucepans and clapped my hands every Thursday evening to show support for our NHS and run 5km to raise money for their fund. But all of this bears into insignificance to the £30m raised by Colonel Tom Moore at the age of 100. Bravo Colonel Tom, and as he so rightly says ‘tomorrow will be a good day’.