NO-ONE knows how long this is going to last. But one thing is certain - we are already days closer to the coronavirus’ end.

It’s staggering to think how quickly things have escalated and how quickly life is changing under the threat of COVID-19. But it’s also staggering and reassuring to see how quickly folk from across Furness are pulling together to look after each other.

Earlier this week I questioned Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton in the Home Affairs Select Committee.

DCC Netherton is the Gold Command for COVID-19 (the top cop in charge of our response to coronavirus) and I pressed him on the police’s ability to identify and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

The planning that Gold Command have put in to ensure that we are secure is remarkable and I’m very grateful for their efforts on our behalf.

But the amazing work that the NHS, police and local councils are doing on our behalves is only part of the story.

We - you and I - are key to successfully beating coronavirus.

That means we must listen to the chief scientist’s advice on social distancing.

And washing hands.

We beat this virus by limiting its spread.

Just because you think you’ll be safe doesn’t mean that the person you rub shoulders with in the street will be. Please act responsibly and think of your neighbours and community.

Speaking of community, I met with Jim and Claire at the foodbank in Barrow.

They do an amazing job throughout the year in looking after some of Furness’ most vulnerable people and they are stepping up now to do the same as this pandemic spreads.

Please remember them and take the time to donate to the foodbank when you’re shopping so that they can serve the people who need that help more than ever.

I know that this is an unsettling and uncertain time.

But we get through it together.

So, please, where possible avoid gatherings.

Wash your hands.

Self-isolate if you are at risk.

Doing so will save lives, protect the NHS, and stop the virus in its tracks.

Do you need help or support?

It’s no exaggeration to say that this situation is fast-moving.

The Government is putting together an unprecedented package of support for people and businesses to ensure that once we are past this virus, life can pick up again with some semblance of normalcy.

But let’s not kid ourselves that these are going to be anything but trying times.

A range of support is available and I’d just like to signpost you to it (and offer HUGE thanks to our amazing community who are offering it).

If you are vulnerable and need help, you can call the following numbers to ask for help with deliveries, including food and prescriptions (both of these are amazing volunteer-run efforts, and huge praise to them).

Ulverston: 01229 357 951

Barrow, Askam, Dalton: 01229 444 407

If you would like to volunteer to help, please visit: (with thanks to Cumbria CVS for leading on this).

If you want guidance from the Government on how to stay safe and well, and what support is on offer, visit:

And my office is open Monday-Friday 9-5. If you want to ask a question, or need help, please email, or call 01229 314 220.

Shop like your neighbours are watching

Over the last few days I’ve spoken with four supermarket managers. Almost word for word, they told me the same thing: there are no shortages; there is no need to stockpile; there is no issue with supply chains, and there is no shortage of any items at all (including loo roll).

But when people see other people shopping like the world is ending, they do the same. And so stock that should last for seven days is lasting for four. Panic buying leads to panic buying. It’s not necessary, and the people it hurts are often actually those who need those supplies the most, namely the vulnerable and elderly.

So, please, just buy what you need. And at this time when local shops are feeling the pressure, think about shopping local - use your local independent shops who need your custom now, more than ever.

Simon Fell

Member of Parliament for Barrow & Furness | @simonfell