Easter 2020 – Chairman’s Message.

For some time now, we have been unable to produce our usual Parish Council Newsletter (sadly due to the absence of a permanent Clerk) but I felt it was an opportune time to at least pen a few lines to our residents in the hope of offering some reassurance during these immensely challenging times of Covid-19.

Somebody said – could you make your message positive and upbeat? That has certainly proved more difficult than I would have anticipated. Personally, I seem to oscillate between feeling fairly low and depressed and then, almost for no reason, except when the sun is shining, I return to a sense of optimism and thankfulness for what I do have. We have beautiful surroundings, good homes and space to enjoy and above all, a wonderful sense of community spirit to help see us through these dark times. We are so much more fortunate than many in our country?

The Coronavirus epidemic has, of course, affected us all but perhaps in so many different ways? I don’t need to repeat the government message but the isolation can mean impacting our lives in a way we would never have imagined. For some, and hopefully many of you, there is the opportunity of contacting and obtaining support from family and friends, maybe renewing old friendships, spring cleaning the house (?!) and working hard in the garden so as to enjoy a weed-free environment? We can also exercise (within limits) in this beautiful part of the New Forest.

However, for others and this is often for our more elderly residents, it is a bewildering and lonely time when they find it hard to cope without social contact. Are they worried about possible symptoms or how to manage an existing condition? Maybe they just find it difficult to ask for help?

Geographically, ours is a difficult ‘Parish’ to coordinate as it lacks a village centre unlike many of our adjoining parish neighbours. This can further increase the sense of isolation. However, we do have a number of hamlets which in turn, help to focus the sense of community spirit and in that regard, I thank you all.

A word of caution – there will doubtless be an increase in crime as opportunists find ways to exploit the current circumstances. Other than cyber crime, please also be aware of those posing as volunteers and offering to get shopping or spend your money in other ways? Always check credentials and if in doubt, please don’t accept their offers?

There is a wealth of information, help and assistance to be found on both national and local websites, (newforest.gov.uk) Local Response Centres, and local community support groups, religious organisations – the churches are closed but not the people who reach out to their friends and colleagues.

Most of us are fortunate to have access to the internet and discover the information for ourselves but I really want to reach out to those residents who do not fit in this category.

What can we all do to help? Please take a moment to think of your nearest neighbours and maybe a few beyond who are possibly more isolated. Are they in need of an offer of help – to buy some urgent supplies, to pick up a prescription, post some mail or perhaps they just need a friendly phone call?

Unfortunately, this message can only be seen by those of you who have registered to receive our Newsletter by email and those with access to the Parish Council website (www.ehipc.co.uk)

If you need guidance or know of someone who could do with assistance, please do telephone myself (01202 814698) or the Acting Clerk, Kate Mason (01425 654277) and we will do our best to direct you to the appropriate responder. My fellow Councillors, Roly Errington, Richard Loader, Gordon Taylor, Alleyn Wilson & Emma Blake are also happy to assist where and when they can.

Cllr Laura Stainton-Burrell, with her husband and staff, is already doing a sterling job of running Hockey’s Farm shop and delivering supplies where essential.

On Parish Council matters, we had advertised for a new Clerk and received an excellent response. Interviews and short-listing were to be held in March so that appointment has been postponed.

The same with our Annual Parish Meeting due to be held later this month but we will endeavour to rearrange for the Autumn. If you have any urgent issues relating to planning or otherwise, please do not hesitate to contact the Clerk at the new email address of clerk@ehipcmail.co.uk

So, my final thought and message to everyone is for Easter. It will be peaceful, certainly, but I sincerely wish you all many blessings for a Happy Easter weekend and in the days and weeks to come in the hope and anticipation that we will in the foreseeable future be able to return to a sense of normality.

Stay safe everyone and please stay in your own homes.