The city of Sunderland, as is much of the world, is going through unprecedented hard times right now. Life on wearside has come to a standstill, streets stand empty, our routines are broken and our minds are filled with fear, stress and discomfort. Many of us worry every single day about their loved ones, especially those who have elderly parents and grandparents. The world feels like it has stopped turning, we are left in the static no longer able to do the things we love and the wait feels like an eternity. Never have we ever experienced anything like this as a country since the Second World War, facing up to constant danger and a world of sheer uncertainty.

We however have the strength to overcome this grave challenge. In striving to do so, we must remember who are as the people of Sunderland and the North East a whole. We must take this moment of crisis and not allow it to crush us or bring us down, to reinvigorate our spirits and re-invent ourselves as a people. The City of Sunderland and the surrounding regions have borne great suffering and burdens over the past few decades, we are deeply proud of who we are, of our working class heritage, of our noble and humble spirits. We have been bruised and hurt through the tremendous pain inflicted on us by the decline of industry and the great poverty which we have suffered, but our spirit has not been broken.

And through this pandemic nor is it about to be here. We must set aside the defeatism, the pessimism and the negative outlook which has persisted in our area and instead discover a new confidence in ourselves that we can get through this. Our forefathers laboured in dangerous pits and shipyards every single day in order to earn a living for their families. They did so with uttermost courage and tremendous sacrifice. As our city’s motto goes: “Nil desperandum Auspice Deo” (Do not despair, have faith in God) but of course rather than steeping into religion, the answer is in fact that we have faith in ourselves as a city, as a people and a region. Who are we? What is our heritage and what did those who come before us stand for?

We have control over our own destiny and fate as a city, in every respect. By strictly adhering to the measures we have been given with obedience, cautiousness, mindfulness and the sheer love for the community we can fight off the covid-19. We know that it hurts, we know that it isn’t easy, but let every step of the way be motivated by a love for your family, for your hometown and for Wearside. This is our fight and this is our chance to win it. Believe in yourself and believe in Sunderland as a place and as a people. Even when all is lost, we still have our spirit and it is time to awaken that great power that lies within the people of Wearside.

Not only will we not succumb to this virus, but Sunderland will rise again. Stay hope, protect saves and support and the NHS.