By Chris Young LDRS

A Councillor has described the “miserable” existence many people in the district have had to live with since Covid restrictions were brought in in late March.

Councillor Paul Godwin (Lab, Keighley West) was describing the plight that many retired people in the district have faced due to lockdown, where they “can’t do anything except sit and look at the four walls and watch television” for the best part of a year. He said lockdown would have been particularly bad for people without gardens.

And Bradford Council’s head of public health acknowledged that measures to stop the spread of the virus will leave many with mental health issues once restrictions are eventually lifted.

Cllr Godwin made the comments at a meeting of the Council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee last week, where members were told that the age group most likely to break lockdown restrictions was people in the 50-69 bracket.

The information came from the Office of National Statistics, and referred to date showing how many people have had contact with someone indoors who was outside their household.
It is thought this age group is most likely to break restrictions on interacting with other people outside your immediate household as they seek to maintain links with family members, both older and younger.

Ian Day, Assistant Director for Neighbourhood and Customer Services, told the committee: “Young people are feeling stigmatised as super-spreaders. But the age bracket most likely to break lock down is 50 to 69 year olds.
“They may feel it is ok to just pop round to visit a relative who lives two doors down because they have always done that.”

Cllr Godwin replied by saying: “You have to consider that in Bradford from April to now we have been in lockdown essentially.”

Pointing out that he fell into that age bracket, Cllr Godwin, who also works as a doctor, said: “I was sitting in my house looking at four walls all day every day while my wife was away looking after her mother.
“If you have done that from April until now you can imagine the frustration of our population.
“Opening pubs wasn’t so interesting to me as I haven’t been to pubs for two or three years, but I haven’t been able to do any other activities such as meeting with other people in my age group.

“I have been able to go to work as a doctor, but for people who don’t have a large house and a garden like me must have been absolutely driven into the ground by this.
“They’ve had no respite since the beginning of April and it really is a frustrating, miserable process that they have been subjected to.
“I’ve had some respite, but some people in that age group will have had no respite.”
He said when lockdown started he wrote to Council bosses to say how miserable lockdown would be for many, and how people should be given guidance on places near their homes they could visit for exercise and to pass the time.

He added: “It is now really difficult for people who have been subjected to this for eight months, and I suspect in reality it will be a year by the time we’re out of this process.
“What we’ve done is bang people up in that age group all year, with nothing to do. They don’t work, they’re stuck at home, they can’t visit their family, they can’t do anything except sit and look at the four walls and watch television.
“No, what a miserable existence that has been.”

Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health on Bradford Council, said: “Good point, I agree. We’ll have some real mental health issues to deal with.”
Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive for Healthy People and Places, said many Council staff had been deployed to send out packs to isolated people with activities they can do while at home, and there were also several online activities people could access.”