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Leader of South Kesteven District council, Kelham Cooke, writes about bouncing back from the pandemic in latest column

The UK’s vaccination programme has been such a great success, giving protection to our communities and allowing the easing of restrictions, writes Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council.

We are about to enter the next step in the easing of restrictions, with indoor hospitality and household mixing returning.

The Grantham Meres Leisure Centre, the joint first vaccination centre in Lincolnshire, has now administered over 100,000 jabs. The national vaccination programme has saved many lives - Public Health England data suggests 10,000 lives have been saved. Such great news.

Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council, in Stamford High Street
Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council, in Stamford High Street

It is also amazing to see our towns and villages back open for business. And many more businesses will reopen from next week. I’m sure that everyone is eager to support local businesses by making the local choice. Buying from a local shop or business will make such a difference to them after the year they have had.

Over the past year, InvestSK, on behalf of SKDC, has provided a lifeline to many businesses, administering over £50m in grants. They will continue to support local businesses by targeting discretionary funding at businesses with growth and job creation ambitions.

InvestSK has seen an increase in the number of business start-up enquiries in the retail sector recently. They are helping these start-ups with advice, guidance and practical support such as finding them a suitable property.

Businesses in South Kesteven are definitely bouncing back from the pandemic.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and Covid-19 has impacted the mental health of many of us.

Research shows that since the start of the pandemic there has been an increase in a range of mental health conditions for adults, from low wellbeing, sleep problems and anxiety to depression.

The theme for the week has been connecting with nature and there is no better place to do that than South Kesteven. We have some beautiful parks and outdoor spaces.

Wyndham Park holds the prestigious Green Flag Award and is great for relaxation or sport. While Queen Elizabeth Park offers beautiful riverside walks.

New rewilding areas were created last year in both Market Deeping and Stamford, increasing wildlife habitat and biodiversity and a project has started just this week to restore and improve the ecology of the River Witham in Grantham and its riverside habitat.

While it is great to be back out, supporting our local businesses or catching up with a friend on a walk, we must remember that regular asymptomatic testing is a vital part of the Government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.

I support the NHS recommendation that people do lateral flow tests, twice a week, especially if they can’t work from home, or are in a bubble, or household with nursery, school or college children or staff.

We are heading in the right direction, but let’s keep everyone well, and keep enjoying all that South Kesteven has to offer.

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