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Nothing can bring back those we’ve lost to coronavirus, and no words of gratitude can repay the debt we owe to the NHS, our care workers and first responders. So what can we do to pay our respects when our communities emerge from this crisis?

We can start by remembering the good qualities people have shown this Spring, remembering the way community spirit has been reborn and keeping it alive as we move forward. We can remind each other that being a good neighbour can make an impact far beyond our immediate neighbourhood.

In recent weeks we’ve seen people get to know neighbours they’ve lived close to but not been close to for years. We’ve seen people giving each other their time and support and becoming valued friends. That mustn’t be allowed to slip away, and we intend to preserve it throughout our region.

4theRegion isn’t waiting for this crisis to end before preparing for the future. This week we’re reaching out to partners across South West Wales to lay the foundations for a new level of cooperation.

The South West Wales Community Rail Partnership is bringing organisations, businesses and communities together to help give our region the identity and purpose it needs to power our social and economic recovery. Tomorrow we’re holding our first stakeholder meeting. As a sign of the times it will of course be hosted online, but please don’t imagine for one moment that the spirit of cooperation will be affected by that. As we’ve learned in 2020, you don’t have to be in the same room to share the same sense of purpose. And you don’t have to step into someone’s house to be a good neighbour.

When we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19 we’ll do it in the knowledge that being a good citizen means being a good neighbour. From that starting point we believe large numbers of people can come together to make the 2020s a decade when we get things right for South West Wales.

Watch this space.

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