The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Craig Simmons, is sending a video message of support and solidarity to each of Oxford’s eight international twin cities.
These cities are also experiencing the devastating impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Lord Mayor of Oxford will share the film this week with his counterparts in Oxford’s twined cities of Bonn in Germany, Grenoble in France, Leiden in the Netherlands, León in Nicaragua, Padua in Italy, Perm in Russia, Ramallah in Palestine, and Wrocław in Poland.
In his video message, the Lord Mayor of Oxford says:
“Like many Oxford residents, I have close family in lockdown overseas.
“This time of year we would normally be thinking of visiting family and friends; a sense of absence is all the more acute.
“Many will also be concerned about the health and welfare of loved ones. Some may tragically be grieving for family members who have passed away.
“So in these challenging times, I wanted to send a message of support and solidarity, on behalf of all those in Oxford, to friends and family overseas.
“As a city, our international connections have made us what we are. Around one quarter of our resident population were born outside the UK.
“When this pandemic is over, we want to renew, celebrate and enhance our international ties, and build on firm foundations of the past.
“A lot has happened since the Lady Mayoress and I took the train across Europe in February and early March this year to visit three of our twin towns: Leiden, Bonn and Wrocław in Poland.
“Our biggest concern when the Eurostar train rolled out of London was Brexit.
“Whilst we were away, we started to hear the first reports of coronavirus. There were cases in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands – countries we had just passed through.
“Handshakes turned to elbow bumps, and our focus shifted abruptly.
“As you can see, I’m making this video from home in Oxford. I’m lucky I still have my job, my home and good health. Many others are not so lucky.
“Like much of the rest of Europe, Oxford is in lock down. Most businesses and all non-essential shops are closed – as you can see, that includes hairdressers.
“I’m interested to learn about how local government in our twin towns and other cities across the world are responding.
“In Oxford, we’ve invoked emergency powers, with all council meetings cancelled.
“In line with government guidance, we’ve closed all of our buildings – our leisure centres, offices, community centres – except for five locality hubs. From these, we are providing food, medical supplies and support services to vulnerable people – with support of an army of volunteers.
“No one knows when the lockdown will end or restrictions will be eased. Until then, I’d like to wish all of you good health. Stay inside, stay safe – and stay in touch.