I bet no-one thought 2020 would be like this. Memorable for all the wrong reasons.

I’m not prone to writing to waffling editorials, but I felt I had to on this occasion.

Some flu-like virus in China. Nah, they’ll contain it. Won’t they? It all seemed so far away, and yet, here it is. We’re slap-bang in the middle of a crisis affecting every aspects of our lives. And yet, we’re probably no-where near the middle yet. Lock-down tight and you might just slow or stop the spread and at a manageable rate, but the nature of globalisation means it will come back again and again. Let it spread a you’ll get herd immunity but the health services won’t cope. And the consequences of that are unthinkable. It’s a quandary alright.

Local Business Face A Daunting Challenge Together

As a business that was purely established to promote all that’s good about Norfolk’s tourism, leisure and lifestyle service businesses we’re in the difficult position of seeing many fantastic businesses struggle, and have to close (albeit hopefully temporarily) due to the very necessary need for social isolation across society. It seems the Government are making the right noises in terms of supporting businesses financially and we urge businesses throughout Norfolk and East Anglia to seek this help where available. The impacts on local businesses is more than just financial, but at the end of the day everyone’s pockets are going to be hit hard. We don’t know how long this Covid-19 outbreak will last, or at what point the lock-downs and social isolation will end. I wish we did because in business, as Brexit so far has proved, businesses need to know what they’re up against in order to plan.

So, here we are. Sat on the bench alongside the local businesses that we support in our region and wondering what we can do to help. I’d like to say we have a magic wand, or that we can advise of ways to adapt business practices to adapt to this new reality. The bottom line is the wonderful locals running local hotels, pubs, theme parks, shops etcetera know how to run their businesses, so they’re already doing what they can. Of course, if they ask for our advice, as some have in the past, we’ll endeavour to help.

As the first cup of tea starts to wear off I realise I need to bring this editorial to a conclusion before my brain needs recharging with caffeine.

It was actually whilst out for a bracing walk just before storm Jorge hit (in mid-February) that I worked out what we could do to help. You see, the early months of the year are when we get the opportunity to do some website tinkering and review our packages. I find my best ideas happen outside on a windy day!

Because we’re a small community business, we always endeavour to provide a model to best suit the businesses we support. Our own revenue has never been our aim and it never will. That windy day might’ve focused my mind and helped to spark the improvements we could make, but I think it’s fair to say that this challenging climate really influenced our on-going business model. We are putting the finishing touches to our revised model and it should be ready by the end of the month and I believe it fits well with NorfolkPlaces’ mission to continue to support all the good stuff in Norfolk now and in the future.

And For The Rest Of Us…

For the good of our region and the whole nation, we have to stick to the principles of social isolation, but in doing so it’s important to maintain physical and mental health.  You can still go out for a good walk, visit nature reserves or gardens. Go for a jog with your dog in the local park, play in the garden with the kids. There may be businesses that are still able to open (such as ones that operate in outdoor spaces or lifestyle services) within the Government guidelines. This information won’t necessarily be displayed on our website so please visit the respective businesses website or check their social media account for the most up-to-date information.

It’s importatn to keep in touch with friends and family on social media, Skype/Facetime/Portal or a good old-fashioned phone call. Make sure elderly relatives and neighbours are okay. Help them understand how to get a delivery from the supermarket.

And don’t forget to support your local businesses through these difficult times. Many might have had to shut their doors to customers, but we’re pretty sure where possible they will be offering delivery services too. Think local, buy local and in the long-term we’ll bounce back stronger as a community.

Final thoughts: Look after each other and support, respect and admire the heroes in hospitals and schools doing their jobs without superhero capes.