Lock down continues and the High Sheriff is shackled to his desk and the Zoom screen. However, no different to all those in public office, many of whom carry out their tasks for much longer than a High Sheriff, we adapt to the circumstances and make good where we can. Whilst Hertfordshire enjoyed the warmest May on record and the one place we lack as a land locked county is a beach, the voluntary sector had no time for relaxation as the need for support across the county continues.
It is incredible to see how our county rallies round in these times. I have enjoyed a number of video meetings with many charities and they all impress on me the overwhelming support they are receiving from volunteers just keen to do their bit to help. A key area of focus this month was Mental Health Awareness week and the increase in cases that have been identified during lock down and the help being given to young and old alike, and especially those isolated without family and those facing future unemployment. It is charities like Mind in Mid Herts, Youth Talk and Tilehouse Counselling who have been working so diligently to supress these dreadful anxieties.
On a lighter note I have engaged online with a live youth group with Herts Inclusive Theatre, made an open air visit to Sunnyside Rural Trust (don’t miss their rural produce shop at Hemel Hempstead if you need some Hertfordshire grown supplies) and handed out certificates to local youth volunteers with One Vision at Stanborough Park Church, Watford. The First Lady of Sheriff High (FLOSH), or my wife Kate, has accompanied me on food deliveries with Small Acts of Kindness and Home Start Watford with the energetic organisation of Chris Luff, and more food deliveries with One Vison in Watford. FLOSH herself has been busy supporting the Hospices of Hertfordshire together with our Lord-Lieutenant, Robert Voss, gathering all manner of goods for their wish lists and valuable PPE.
In order to keep abreast of the inner workings of the county I have engaged with the Judges at the County and Family Courts, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Fire officer, the University of Hertfordshire and local Mayors. Their commitment at these times is huge as they prepare for the ‘new normal’ whilst continuing to keep us in safe hands during the lockdown.
On my theme of conservation and the environment – the greatest benefit is the lack of noise pollution, especially our quiet skies. We hear the cuckoos and much more bird song but the biggest blight of the countryside is worse than ever as we all enjoy our outdoor space – litter. The plastic bag tax has made a difference – now let’s tax the plastic bottle.