James Heappey weekly column

There is no escaping that tackling Covid-19 is a challenge of almost unprecedented scale for this country in these times. Sitting on the various ministerial groups shows me the complexity of the Government response, with interventions required in our economy on a colossal scale alongside similarly ginormous interventions in the NHS and our public services. And that is before we consider what we need to do to repatriate Britons stranded all over the world and to support people in the overseas territories and crown dependencies.

What’s extraordinary is that until earlier this week, the person in charge of all of that was trying to fight off their own dose of coronavirus. It must have been an extraordinarily demanding task for someone in full health, so I just wanted to use this column to place on record my admiration for the selflessness of the Prime Minister for shouldering the burden despite his illness.

I hope that he will now focus on his own recovery so he can be back in charge as soon as is possible. But in the meantime, the business of Government goes on at full pace with other cabinet ministers leading the charge in the Prime Minister’s absence.

I know that despite the best effort of the Government, there are still businesses and individuals who are horribly exposed to the financial or social impact of Covid-19.

My team and I are working hard to raise these concerns with the Government and assist people in accessing the help available but there’s no escaping that with all of the things the Government can do, the most powerful intervention of all is the goodwill and generosity of the thousands upon thousands of people that are volunteering to help within the community at this difficult time.

When we look back on this in future years, it won’t be the billions of pounds of support which is remembered, but the way in which communities rallied around to support the most vulnerable in our society.

To everyone who is volunteering – thank you.