Why are some towns struggling to shake off Covid-19?

Posted: March 22nd 2021


This story could be seen as linked typically to northern industrial towns. However in food processing centres like Spalding in Lincolnshire there is a disturbing tradition of equally high levels of the virus. This all makes me think about the importance of widening out our description of the concept of the key worker. Without these individuals I am afraid our way of life would become far less comfortable and yet their occupation puts them in harm’s way. This story tells us:

For weeks now, Covid-19 infection rates have been falling across the UK.

But there are some towns that have bucked the trend, with infections remaining stubbornly high.

This is particularly true of towns where the local economy relies on manufacturing, construction or food processing jobs - the kind of work that simply can't be done from home.

That becomes obvious on the shop floor of Owen Springs in Rotherham, where the sparks are flying.

For nearly 40 years this South Yorkshire firm has manufactured springs for cars, vans and trains.

This is labour that is hard, physical and hands-on, the red-hot metal being beaten and pressed into shape.

Nick Naylor, the managing director, says the pandemic has meant a re-think about how to keep the business going - while making sure staff stayed safe.

"This is old fashioned Sheffield metal bashing. We heat treat it and get it into shape, we can't do it separately, we do it as a team.

"It isn't something you can sit at home and do," he says.

"So we have staggered breaks and working times, we have people who have buddied up in twos who always work together.

"It has been something we've had to learn as we go along, as everybody else has, what works, what doesn't work, how to keep people safe, and anything else that has been the priority while we keep the business standing up, waiting to get on with it."