This week, the UK passed the horrendous landmark of 100,000 recorded Covid-related deaths.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, in addition to the wider work of our Party, we have focused on some of the most basic issues affecting our members’ lives, our communities and the co-operative movement. These perspectives have seen us campaign and affect change in the areas of food justice, retail, education, early years provision, mental health, community action, bereavement and end of life care, and more.

This return to the basic fundamentals of our lives in some ways mirrors aspects of the country’s wider experience of the pandemic. When we look at it on these basic terms – more than 100,000 lives lost and the unreckonable damage the virus has wreaked across the country – it is a complete tragedy.

However, there is hope on the horizon: the work that has been done in developing and delivering a vaccine is herculean, and we have been happy to support efforts from the Labour Party and others to promote vaccinating Britain. But like the Labour Party, we in the Co-operative Party believe that there is a need to ensure there is further prioritisation of those groups of people at the most sustained risk from Covid-19. As co-operators, we have been calling for better protection for retail and funeral workers, as well as teachers and early years providers. Our movement has these many of these workers at its centre, and we have seen from the grim statistics that they need to be given early vaccination priority. This past year has shown that these frontline workers, among many others in our daily lives, are true key workers. They are our backbone and they deserve the highest protection.

Whilst the toll of the last year is heavy, we must ensure that the course of the next chapter in this historic event is defined by kindness, co-operation and understanding. From the lessons that have been learnt the hard way, we must demonstrate smart, timely and courageous decision-making which protects us a country-wide community, rather than the odds being forever tilted away from some and towards others.