Hope remains to be alive in Leicester, regardless of the ban
On June 29, after days of speculation, Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that Leicester would impose the first local English blockade of the Covid 19 pandemic (News, July 3).
Political allegations and tensions between central and local government have been uncovered and are ongoing. Like the rest of the country, we expected things to open up. The cathedral was to offer space for private prayers on July 1, and public worship should follow. As with local businesses, we had made extensive preparations, spent money on equipment and personnel, and raised expectations.
We quickly undid all of this. For one person, we all felt flat and disappointed. The Easter candle, which had not been lit at Easter, was to be blessed by the bishop, and I should carry it in and reaffirm the light of Christ in the heart of this city. Unfortunately, the candle remains in the box.
We were not surprised that the following days were difficult. We understood that when cases came up and there was a local problem, something crucial had to be done.
However, it is the unforeseen consequences of the local closure that deserve attention. Some of these ramifications may be specific to Leicester, but do indicate potential impacts that may be felt elsewhere.
Firstly, we experience a kind of partition in our community (inside and outside the defined red zone). For me, this is the color of growing up on the border in Ireland. Until then, our border will be monitored and enforced. Colleagues who live in neighboring villages on the outskirts of the city cannot travel to the cathedral. Arch deacons with parishes in the zones are trapped inside and can only travel out if it turns out that their travels are "essential".
Our diocese has the shape of a donut: the market towns and villages in the district surround the city. Bridging this gap between country and city, between multicultural and monocultural is a key gift of our Christian faith and the vocation of our diocese. The slogan of our cathedral should be "a beating heart for the city and district". The Mayor of Labor City and the Chairman of the Conservative District Council often hear: "What is good for the city is good for the district" and vice versa. We are divided at the moment, and division invariably brings suspicion. Misunderstandings have reason to take root.
Second, there are people from every community who test positive for Covid-19. More than 50 percent of our community has a BAME heritage and we know from national statistics that they are vulnerable, but this is no longer the case here than in any other city.
The tests have increased enormously. The vast majority of the population was and is responsible. Fortunately, the increase in positive cases has not led to a significant increase in hospital admissions. I was saddened by all sorts of wild assumptions, many of which cover thin veneers of prejudice and racism. Guilt has fed the insatiability of social media for warmth rather than light.
In this very diverse community we have known integration and real neighborhood and partnership for years. Faith leaders, along with others, were the key to creating this togetherness: when you hurt, everyone hurts. This has shifted beyond words to social change. Common social action by the faith communities has protected the homeless and fed the hungry.
However, as we saw with the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury, the tales of a city or community can change quickly.
With a focus on Leicester, there is an opportunity to be used for those who want to claim that diversity is bad or that healthy multicultural communities are fiction.
We are determined to show that this is nonsense. In response, our bishop is already working to launch Together in Hope with partners throughout the community, including the University of Leicester and the Leicester City Football Club. It is a project that will unite us again.
In the meantime, newspapers have printed headlines such as “Cheap Leicester” regarding allegations of rags. There are more than 1500 factories in the city. It has been known for some time that health and safety issues exist in a minority of cases and that workers' rights are at risk. Some of it is a clear exploitation and goes in the direction of modern slavery.
Unfortunately, it is likely mirrored in many other places. Local authorities are limited in their enforcement powers and in the resources now available. Since 2018, a task force based on partnerships between key agencies has raided Leicester and brought more compliance into play. There is still a lot to do and it is shameful to discover it here. The Church is part of the response of our diocese body to social responsibility.
Apartment buildings are also highlighted as the reason for the Covid 19 top. Of course, poor living has always played a role in pandemics, but our row-house streets are far from slums. As everywhere, they vary from “Swish Doed-Up” to “Need”. However, the streets of Soho or the beaches of Bournemouth offered us scenes of overcrowding that went far beyond what was seen in this community.
But the media have done a lot of our problems now. Exploitation or poor living needs attention, as does the vision that living is not just residential units, but also houses that are interwoven as different intergenerational communities with different economic means. Covid-19 Reveals Inequalities Again and The Ways Into Them We have allowed planning or regulatory systems to be over-informed through functional considerations rather than through a richer, more humane, long-term vision for wellbeing and health, and economic sense.
Many people in Leicester like to live as larger family groups in areas with a nearby shop selling fruits and vegetables. The place of worship is just around the corner. I grew up in a multi-generation house that offered a rich social context.
This way of life should not be slandered, but celebrated. Far from calling this a problem, we should try to learn from the good examples of extended families who live modestly and still live well. We want to reduce social distance in the long term instead of building a separation.
FINALLY, a city's scapegoat won't solve any problems. Refugees, asylum seekers and poor BAME people are still doing the jobs that nobody else wants to do. These sisters and brothers fall victim to a system in which others buy cheap products with power and money without caring about those who made them. As consumers, we have the power to act. Instead of feeling sorry for Leicester, we hear the reputation of being good consumers and we respond to the injustices that fall under our noses.
Much is said about north-south divisions. The squeezed Midlands are too easily forgotten. The great story that Leicester won the Premier League in 2016 was partly due to the fact that in many ways it was "the little Leicester who did it". In other words, we were insignificant, not good enough; Therefore, the shock of victory is all the greater.
We have challenges: weeks of additional blocking mean that the future will be more difficult. But shaming a city is destructive and irresponsible. It is necessary and wholesome to help a community face its shadow. Defamation and scapegoat are no way to hope.
And yet hope is still very much alive in Leicester, not least through the practice of faith. God very often seems to be particularly interested in people and places who are less fashionable for powerful eyes, but who have learned a mutual way of hope by repeatedly confronting and possessing their challenges. We learn again to be together in hope.
Dear David Monteith is Dean of Leicester and Chairman of the Dean of the Church of England.