There is lots to celebrate as we finally settle into the warmer months, and the longer days have heralded us resuming a more normal life.
The local high streets are abuzz with open shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants as people get out and enjoy the summer weather. All sorts of activities are going ahead – just last month we had a community organised litter pick, and we have also safely welcomed back local markets. And perhaps most importantly, we are again able to meet and hug loved ones.
Weddings are going ahead, something I know that the industry, couples and indeed families have strongly welcomed. After such a long period without weddings or with severely limited numbers, we are again able to celebrate families coming together and couples’ big days with the Government’s road map for the wedding industry.
A challenging school year for pupils and teachers is also drawing to a close. Everyone has worked so hard in difficult circumstances, and the summer break will be a welcome and well-earned one after pupils have adjusted to being back in classrooms and catching up on areas of learning.
And we are doing all that we can to ensure that the classroom is the best place to learn, with half a billion pounds in funding for school improvement programmes across the country. The recently announced Condition Improvement Funding means schools in our area like Gatley Primary School, Meadowbank Primary School and the Kingsway School will receive money for projects to improve their buildings and work on issues such as energy efficiency. This funding comes after last month’s announcement of nearly £1.5 billion in funding for pupils in a catch up package, in addition to the £1.7 billion already announced. The catch-up package will include £1 billion for 100 million hours of tutoring and £250 milllion for teacher and development training, which will go far to ensure that no child misses out on learning as a result of the pandemic.
To continue protecting the community and keeping people safe, we are vaccinating at an incredible rate. So far, more than 43 million people have had their first vaccine dose (around 80% of the adult population) and over 31 million people have had their second. Here in Stockport, numbers are also high – well over 200,000 residents have been vaccinated, with more than 96% of people aged 70+ having received their vaccine and 59% of adults overall vaccinated with both their doses. Volunteers continue to work around the clock to ensure that as many people as possible are receiving their jab.
So whilst we enjoy the summer sunshine and the company of loved ones, if you are invited for your vaccine or are now eligible, please do take it up. After a year of unpredictability, the vaccines really do provide that all important protection and reassurance for the community and help us to ensure our NHS does not become with hospitalisations for serious cases of Covid-19.