By Chris Matheson

MP for Chester

LAST week I bumped into Kingdom Thenga and we had a chat about the route out of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Kingdom is one of the great characters around Chester, but he is also a successful businessman in the hospitality sector. He owns The Suburbs, Duke’s and The Yard, all great venues to visit.

He told me about the African philosophy of ‘Ubuntu.’ This means something like “I am because you are,” a philosophy that we all rely on each other and that if we look after each other, then we grow collectively but also as individuals.

That we share a common humanity, and thrive and prosper when we do so together.

That sounds like a great philosophy to me. We have all suffered in this pandemic, some more than most. But with a few exceptions the whole country has suffered. Together we have come to realise the importance of properly funded public services, and key workers who are properly paid and valued.

As we come out of the pandemic, these are the values that must be uppermost.

But we also have to support local businesses which have really suffered in the last twelve months. Izzy Grey, another one of Chester’s big personalities, has been doing a fantastic job through her We Love Good Times business, reminding us of the great places to visit and places to go out to eat and drink and socialise.

Izzy has been promoting venues online and in her own newspaper, and she has developed a phone app to support Chester hospitality venues that we can visit as restrictions are relaxed. The philosophy is the same: Chester is stronger if we as Chester people support independent Chester businesses.

A few weeks ago I had another street conversation with a friend I had bumped into, Carl. He was annoyed at those who were breaking the restrictions too early, and so damaging the battle against coronavirus.

“All we are being asked to do, is to be careful so older people and those who are sick can stay safe. Instead some people only care about themselves” he told me.

How right he was. I hate these restrictions and the sooner they are relaxed then abolished the better. But we can only do that gradually as it gets safer.

There is a new mood out there. Community has become important again. Supporting each other and working together are important again.

Carl, Kingdom and Izzy and many like them all want to do their best to get Chester over the line and past the horrors of Coronavirus.

Let’s work together - because Chester is a stronger, better place when we do.