Looking beyond Covid – Yorkshire must seize new opportunities

For most people living in Yorkshire coronavirus has brought the biggest crisis in our lifetimes, for older people it’s the biggest since World War 2. 

Where do we go from here? What does the future hold for Yorkshire, its economy and culture, and what part does the The Yorkshire Society intend to play?

Our lives have been disrupted through extended Lockdowns. Many of us lost or have been unable to see loved ones, trips and celebrations have been cancelled, and whilst this has meant more stay at home holidays, this has also meant less people from abroad or other parts of the UK coming to spend money in our towns and cities or our scenic areas like the Dales, Moors and Coast.

This has meant far less money coming into shops and small businesses which in turn has put many jobs a risk.  Theatres, cinemas, concert halls and music venues have been closed, shows cancelled and many actors, musicians, event managers are now out of work and many young people from our region are finding less job opportunities as companies have downsized or closed down and public sector projects are phased back.

But there are some compensations. People living in the countryside and even in town have reported less traffic, noise and air pollution during the pandemic, which made them more receptive to nature and the value of peacefulness. They could see and smell the wildflowers and hear the birdsong. But perhaps most importantly, we have all had time to think about what we most value in our lives.

In some of the hardest times, hopefully now passed, the resourcefulness and generosity of so many people helping their neighbours, especially the elderly and housebound, was inspiring, as were the many who worked tirelessly to help the NHS, such as making PPE masks and scrubs at that time of dire shortages, or raising vital funds – we have rediscovered a community spirit.

Many people have suggested that post-Covid we need to keep that spirit alive, to find new ways of doing things, to create what some have called a “green economy” which might include new industries, new ways of supporting our farmers or growing our own produce, or manufacturing our own goods to replace imports, developing new low-carbon technologies to help combat climate change, etc.

Thoughts are now turning to the future.

The greatest asset Yorkshire has is its people and the spirit of self–reliance and determination they have – real Yorkshire grit – which in centuries past, like today, allowed communities to overcome adversity, to survive and to flourish, and to find new ways forward.

The Yorkshire Society, a not-for-profit organisation with no political alignment,  has been around for 40 years, quietly and without a fuss celebrating and promoting everything that’s great about Yorkshire; ordinary people working together to achieve extraordinary things. But never in all that time has the community spirit we hold so dear been more urgently needed – to help those who can’t help themselves, to organise disconnected organisations, to facilitate the sharing of ideas and expertise and to show the post-Brexit, post-Covid world what Yorkshire has to offer.

The Yorkshire Society intends to take up the challenge.

The challenge of bringing the people of Yorkshire together, to work with government agencies, local authorities, industry and academic bodies, businesses large and small to support Yorkshire’s economy, communities, environment and culture.

It’s time for Yorkshire to start punching its weight. Only by working together, as a single region (the three ridings of Yorkshire) will we achieve a voice worth listening to outside our own borders, and a deserved reputation for being much more than a tourist destination. An economic destination.

If you would like to help us or get involved please write to [email protected]

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