Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all our daily lives with a significant amount of change having taken place over the last few weeks. Whilst we mainly look at that through the lens of what we now can’t do, we should also take a minute to look at some of the positive things we have been able to do. Because whilst technology has been changing our lives for the better for years, since this period began, we have seen it take on an even greater role.
Many of us have found new ways of keeping in touch with friends and family, including some of our elderly relatives who haven’t used technology in this way before. Apps like FaceTime and Zoom have given us the ability to celebrate birthdays, enjoy a pub quiz or simply ‘see’ each other when we would otherwise be unable to do so. And I know for many, myself included, it has also provided the opportunity and reason to speak to people we haven’t seen in a long time.
At lots of businesses we have seen a rapid adoption of remote working technology. Jobs that were previously office based are now being done from home and that will bring significant long-term benefits to both individuals and businesses. It means less time spent commuting and a more engaged and productive workforce.
Burnley College is leading the way on adoption of technology for education providers in order to keep our young people learning, with all classes moved online and tutors speaking ‘face-to-face’ with every student, every week.
And for my part, me and my team are all working remotely. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that our democratic systems continue to function and so next week Parliament will meet virtually for the first time in history. This will allow me to continue to ask questions of Government on your behalf, and scrutinise the action being taken, whilst adhering to the rules which are helping to save lives.
I have also adapted how I engage and meet with constituents here in Burnley. Face-to-face meetings and supermarket surgeries are unfortunately no longer possible, but telephone and video appointments are now taking place. And in a first for Burnley, I have also begun holding regular Facebook Live Q&As. These offer a valuable opportunity for me to speak to many of you, and for you to raise your concerns or questions with me. If you haven’t seen these yet, you can find details of when they’re taking place on my Facebook page and website.
These are all important and show that even in the face of significant challenge, we can adapt and find new ways of doing things which will have benefits for years to come. That should give us all hope that once this period is over, our ingenuity and adaptability will help kick-start our economy and get life back to normal.