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Hello dear friends,
Firstly, I hope you and your family and friends are all as well as can be in these strange times.
As we move out of full crisis mode at the Embassy, which has been a full on but interesting challenge, especially regarding repatriations, I thought I would reach out to you to you to see how you all are and see how are British Community is doing generally. As many of you belong to different groups, I know this will reach a lot of people.
I hope that confinement is allowing you to garden, (if lucky to have one), learn Italian, play the Ukulele and watch all the old classics you wanted to see for ages! I have done none of these things (!) but have been cooking and reading, watching Netflix! and mainly catching up with people, especially family and friends in the UK. Like many of us, I sadly lost a family member to COVID-19 last week but we have managed to have a church service by video (ZOOM) and the funeral will also be on video. We can then have ceremonies when the travel bans are lifted. I share this in case, again sadly, it of use to anyone.
The Bordeaux Consulate
The Consulate went into crisis mode, the day before French confinement, and we all started working from home. Luckily we have a good IT system now and TEAMS software which allows us to video and chat with colleagues across France and globally. This has been essential to our business continuity, but also helped us to feel less isolated.
Our temporary offices at Regus Ravezies, which are not to open to the Public, will remain closed until further recommendations from the Embassy. We had to put Emergency Passports on hold but people can still go to Paris or Marseille if absolutely necessary. Otherwise the telephone lines, through the Contact Centre, are still open for calls across all Posts and our British nationals can still contact us. There is still an active search for Permanent Consulate offices in Bordeaux (though on hold) and we hope that we will have a new consulate building early next year.
Associations and the more vulnerable
I have seen that some of the different Associations have maintained virtual activities for their members, Pub quizzes, sharing poetry, mask making! and can imagine that for those really isolated, this is a great way to keep in touch and share some fun and creative time together!
That said, there are people who don’t have access to the Internet, making them much more vulnerable than usual in the current situation and I wondered if you have seen that in your groups? How have you been managing to reach out to those not using IT? This is a question we have raised in our consular teams and Embassy social media messaging has gone out to help and guide people, but this again, doesn’t reach that part of the community which doesn’t have access to the internet. Have you seen an increase in calls from your members? Have you been able to reach out to them? Any thoughts from you would be helpful and of course, please contact me if I can be of help.
Strange times we are all going through indeed but there has been some really good community spirit from all of this and we all look forward to working with you again when we move out of the different phases of de-confinement and we can get back to some kind of normality and work together again. You can contact me on my personal work mobile, which I think you all have ( 06 09 84 26 18 )
Hope you are all safe and taking care of yourselves.
Thank you for everything you do for all the British communities.
Dominique Olley (Mme) | Consule | British Consulate | Bordeaux
+33 1 44 51 33 82 | +33 6 09 84 26 18 | ECHO: 8330 3382 I Dominique.email@example.com