10 July 2020


The wearing of face coverings on public transport has been mandatory for a few weeks now but from today we’re required to wear them when shopping too. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of putting on a face covering when out shopping but confess I haven’t always remembered. Changing the habits of a lifetime isn’t easy.

There is a strong view that this preventative action should have been taken months ago. For now, with a few exceptions, we all have get used to covering our faces when shopping. I know the great efforts that shops across Shetland have undertaken during this lockdown period so the least we can do, while continuing to support them and the local economy as we slowly come out of lockdown, is wear a face covering and avoid the possibility of spreading the virus to shop staff or other customers.

Shopping is often a social activity as well as getting in the errands, and after being indoors for so long having human contact and seeing friends again is a joy. There’s lots of catching up to do, even if it’s physically distant. The term “socially distant” is a misnomer as there’s nothing social about it.

Like hundreds of people, I’ve been following the adventures of Christian Lewis and his dog Jet, as he walks the coastline of Britain while raising funds for the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA. I wish them both well as they continue their travels.

Some of the photos Chris has posted on social media have been stunning and are a great advert for Shetland staycations, giving more power to the elbow of the Promote Shetland campaign for islanders to “Rediscover Shetland”. Holiday memories don’t have to be made abroad.

As we enter the ‘build back better’ period of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a cohort of people who are consistently seen as a problem but they could be part of the solution to the recovery and renewal phase. That comes as no surprise to older women who are invisible in our society, and often invisible unpaid carers too.

‘WASPI women’ is a name that has become a catch-all term for 1950s women who have challenged the way the State Pension eligibility age has changed. With little or no notice, retirement plans have had to be pushed back, leaving many in dire financial circumstances and forced to continue to work when not able to do so.

At the recent WASPI Cross Party Group virtual meeting successive speakers spoke of the need for the State Pension to be paid to this group of women which in turn would free up jobs for younger people, reduce claims for expensive working age benefits, and allow grandparents to provide childcare for their families who need to get back to work. This would also help reduce the impact on the physical and mental wellbeing already being felt by some older WASPI women. Talk of renewal must include everyone.


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