Hello PPMA Friends

With all the relentless speculation about what’s going to happen after Covid, Karen Grave explains why it’s way too early to be dwelling on this right now.

“Usually when I get a deep burning pain in my gut, Gaviscon is my go to remedy. But I’ve come to realise that this particular pain in my gut is best understood through the increasing understanding that our brains and our gut are much more intertwined that previously thought.

To cut a long story short I have a raging headache. I suspect it’s been caused by the opinion headlines, marketing studies etc that are apparently already mightily confident about what the post Covid-19 world will be.

We talk a good game us humans, about the world changing and this being a time of reset and reflection. A time for us to reflect on the fragilities across the globe that Covid-19 has so brutally exposed. A time for us to reconnect with family, friends and our community. A time for us to think about how our today impacts our tomorrows and whether what we currently value and do is up to the challenge. And most importantly of all, a time for us to be still. Still – in wonder of the extraordinary commitment of everyone across public services who is doing so much to keep us going.

Yes, you guessed it. Sadly, (and like nature) it seems some people abhor a vacuum, even if what they choose to fill it with is unmitigated shite. Cue absolutely raging raging headache.

Bullshit is as contagious as fear.

From misleading headlines about the tragic number of deaths in a day; dangerous speculation about 5G and it’s contribution to Covid-19; pathetic twitter comments inducing speculation that because NHS Nightingale is quiet something sinister must be going on; the vile trope that a Prime Minister’s illness was a hoax; the endless opinion pieces about how Remote Working is the Future, Women are the only leaders who have done well etc. Need I go on?

To be sure, there is some deeply thoughtful and inspiring writing. And there are articles that are a very welcome, genuine contribution to what will become our body of understanding about what a post Covid-19 world will look like.

I suggest that we don’t yet have anywhere near enough of that. We are nowhere near being able to say when after Covid-19 will even be. Why do I say that? Well because the people who actually know what is happening are actually far too busy identifying, collaborating, investigating, modelling, learning, planning, challenging, talking etc.

Most likely we can safely say we are at the end of the beginning of the first wave of deaths. But even then, we are not yet calculating the number of deaths in our community. The numbers of dead thud dully into the daily news cycle. But, apart from a few headlines here and there, we have not even begun to comprehend the grief and loss of families and friends. What have we become?

A reckoning is coming. And it should.

Hard choices about how we live in future are coming. And they will, I hope, be based on the broadest thinking and robust discussion about who we want to be. Not what we want to have necessarily. Are we genuinely going to get engaged in meaningful debate, or are the noisiest amongst us going to continue to lob grenades from their respective political positions, ever convinced of their own righteousness?

I ask these questions because the people whose voices really need to be heard are actually quite busy right now.

They are the people struggling to survive, the homeless, the dispossessed, the sick. They are our clinicians and non-clinicians, the public health specialists, the care home workers, the carers in individual homes, the policemen and women working to try and ensure we hold the social distancing line, the military planners, hospital and care home builders, the volunteers, the pharmacists, the paramedics, all other essential workers.

And the ever put upon ‘back office’ workers, including my HR & OD colleagues who have over these last weeks performed miracles. And transformed how our public services operate in ways that will take months to be able to reconcile with, never mind describe. Call us (and our finance, property, procurement, legal and ICT colleagues) back office again if you dare.

 Stillness is hard – silence is too.

But you see, the essential thing about stillness is that it invites silence. And the wonderful thing about silence is that it gives space for the voices we need to listen to, to be heard. And it gives us time to read what we really need to see.

So, I leave you with this.

  • Over this bank holiday weekend 10 members of staff at Manchester City Council were tasked with setting up the Manchester’s Food Response Team depot.
  • His Church Charity & The Hut Group provided the team with 63 pallets of supplies.
  • Because of this incredible response the team needed more bags to build the food parcels they were making.
  • So they went to Morrisons in Openshaw to see if they would help.
  • Not only did Morrisons provide bags, they donated 2 trolleys of Easter Eggs.
  • Over these last three days, the team delivered 347 parcels giving 670 people much needed food (and Easter Eggs for some).
  • They were delivered by voluntary drivers.
  • And these deliveries are in addition to the incredible work being done by Food Banks.

After Covid?

Covid-19 isn’t just another event that will quickly fade from our collective memories. It is here to stay. And so are it’s brutal effects.

So, when we are really ready to be able to talk medium and longer term and envision and build what we want to be, I want to hear from all these amazing people. The people whose lives were turned upside down, the genuine experts – the people who have thoroughly investigated and understood the issues. The people who have fought on the battle lines, albeit without guns but with brains, heart, compassion and love.

And the much maligned politicians and policy makers who have genuinely been in the eye of the storm.

As for those people creating noise now, who are so invested in pushing for courses of action that we can’t yet know are even based on sound thinking and evidence?

Not so much, thanks.”