Warning of continued isolation despite May 17 Covid rules easing
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The easing of coronavirus restrictions from today has been welcomed as a "positive step to starting to rebuild our communities" - but there are still fears people will be left isolated.
From today, people are allowed more freedom to mix inside homes - with one other household or the 'rule of six' - while pubs, restaurants and cafes can welcome customers indoors.
Jo Reeder, chief executive of BSEVC - which runs services such as community transport for those at risk of isolation - said: “The easing of lockdown is of course a positive step to starting to rebuild our communities and to encourage individuals to start to re-engage.
"Many people will relish this - but we need to be mindful that there will also be people that may find this new found freedom daunting after such a long time and with this could come feelings of anxiety and uncertainty."
Sally Connick, from Community Action Suffolk - who helped to set up a number of Meet Up Mondays groups across Suffolk before the Covid crisis - added: "There will be many people across the county that will find Monday difficult.
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"They may now feel more isolated than before and lack the personal and community connections to feel confident to get involved with activities they enjoy.
"We are currently running a survey to understand the experiences of community groups and mutual aid.
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"The majority of groups are telling us that there are people in their community that need support.
"It is important that people in Suffolk are able to attend the groups and activities they previously enjoyed."
Ann Osborn, from the Rural Coffee Caravan - which brings coffee, tea and home-made cakes to rural areas to give people company and provide information about important services - hopes that groups like hers will help people to feel more confident going out.
"We know from the amount of invitations we are receiving to come to rural villages that they are keen to get out and see us as we are providing a safe environment," said Mrs Osborn.
She also hopes people will feel more confident about going out and about as time goes on, adding: "I think some will feel different by June."