Quick, someone get me Lenny Henry on the phone, send for Bob Geldof, we need to get the public to raise half a billion pounds.

If we don’t act now an emergency of catastrophic proportions will unfold and as a caring society we will not be able to live with ourselves.

This column originally appeared in The Glasgow Times

Richard Branson needs our help. If we don’t step up he might even need to spend some of his own dosh.

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best in many people but sadly others have been found wanting and their actions seriously out of touch.

On one hand, this week the Project Wingman team was looking to set up in Glasgow hospitals.

Pilots and cabin crew, whose planes are grounded, are setting up first class lounges to offer a space for NHS staff to unwind and offload and relax if they get a break from their shift.

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Dozens have offered to volunteer at no cost to the NHS other than providing a staff room.

It is more than just a nice gesture because stressed NHS staff will be talking to people who also know a bit about stressful situations and having people’s lives in your hands.

Then on the other hand, we have someone who owns airlines, Richard Branson, asking for a government bail out to the tune of half a billion pounds.

He is asking for a bail out from a government to which his personal taxes in a good number of years has amounted to hee-haw.

He is asking for the taxpayers to bail his business out when he has amassed a personal fortune from those ventures.

You can understand why he’s looking for handout. Poor old Richard is down to his last $4.5 billion.

The half a billion needed could be taken from his own pocket and still he would be a long way away from looking up the helpline to claim Universal credit.

The emergency has made people understand that some realities of modern society are not acceptable.

People who are struggling are being helped in ways that was not readily available during normal life before.

Rough sleeping in Glasgow, which takes place mostly in the city centre, has been effectively eradicated.

Where previously there were around 30 men and women spending the night outside, even when the night shelter was operating, all these people have been taken and put into hotels and B&Bs during lockdown.

The challenge when restrictions are lifted is to ensure they take up offers of accommodation and are supported with the other serious problems they have.

Many of the people however, are in the category of having no recourse to public funds. Well if it is not public funds that is paying for the hotel rooms just now, then what is it.

It is Scottish Government cash that is paying for the rooms. So, if we can use public funds now, we can do it again later.

We have seen an amazing amount of food deliveries to those who are unable to leave their homes during lockdown because they are either isolating with symptoms or shielding for a longer period.

A lot of the cash has again come from Government but large firms have also been donating either food or money to allow those distributing the food to have enough to go round.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was no sooner in the door of 11 Downing Street than he was faced with a crisis a million miles away from anything most of his predecessors ever had to worry about.

His response was to dig into the coffers to find money to try and keep businesses alive to get through this and prevent millions being put out of work.

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People at all levels are recognising hardship and trying to help where they can.

Council workers whose jobs are not able to be performed just now are filling in gaps in essential services like keeping streets clean and caring for vulnerable people.

But when finally, we are able to return to normal living and people are looking for work and still struggling and all the other social problems that have been masked show their face again how will we as a society respond.

Government has shown that when it needs to there is money available.

While we can’t throw money at every single problem in normal times the recognition that help is needed can be maintained and solutions found.

If it is unacceptable just now then it will still be unacceptable in the future.

That has to be part of the new normal.

Hopefully maybe even Richard Branson can get on board and fill out a tax return to help pay for it.

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