At the end of a challenging week, we find ourselves, once again, in national lockdown as the country tries to control the spread of Covid-19.
Not that it makes it any easier, but we always knew there was the real possibility of a second wave, and more restrictions, as we moved into Autumn. Combined with everyone returning to work, school and university, this is the time of year when the usual seasonal viruses start to circulate and the NHS and Care Sector work hard to navigate the winter pressures.
In an effort to avoid overloading vital health and social care services, the vast majority of people in our city and region have been absolutely brilliant in doing their bit during the past few weeks when we've had enhanced local restrictions, to prevent the virus spiraling out of control.
And it has started to pay off, as the North East is receiving recognition for being the only region at this stage to see infection rates levelling out. Obviously there's no room for complacency, but this means that when we emerge from the national restrictions, we stand a good chance of not being in the highest tier of local restrictions, as long as everyone continues to play their part in the coming weeks.
So a huge thank you to everybody in Sunderland who's been doing just that - it is incredibly difficult for everyone to not be able to see loved ones or do all the things that have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing.
But by making these sacrifices, we will genuinely be saving lives and protecting vital frontline services. I have no doubt we can do this, and I'm very proud of the community spirit shown across the city these past eight months and the willingness to look out for, and look after others.
This has never been more in evidence than last week with the phenomenal response to providing meals to children who needed them, during the half term holiday.
It was incredibly humbling and uplifting to see human kindness in action like this across our city with a huge number of businesses offering free meals and lunchboxes for children, with no questions asked.
And having worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, our army of foodbank coordinators and volunteers stepped up yet again to try and ensure no child or family went hungry.
The final piece of the jigsaw was local people's overwhelming generosity and selflessness through the donations of money, food and essential items. So an enormous thank you to absolutely everyone who played a part in this and in all the community and neighbourly support provided, in a whole range of ways, in this unprecedented and extremely challenging year.
There are far too many individuals and organisations playing a part to mention each by name, but everyone involved is a hero in my eyes and has my utmost gratitude and respect.
Speaking of being grateful to our heroes, given Covid-19 has affected our ability to hold our usual Remembrance events at the weekend, from Friday 6 November, we are running a digital programme of events, so that as a city we can all have the opportunity to reflect and pay our respects. This is something that I know is very important to the people of Sunderland and details of the online programme can be found See It Do It website.
Returning to tackling the spread of Covid-19, a big thank you again to everyone who's doing their bit. It's a very difficult time for many who are worried about the impact on their lives and livelihoods, and the council along with our partners, will do everything possible to support residents, businesses and organisations through these coming weeks and beyond.
Please stay safe, continue to follow the rules and take very good care of yourselves and everyone one around you.
Very best wishes
Cllr Graeme Miller
Leader of the Council