Cllr Oliver Patrick
Cllr Oliver Patrick (Somerset County Council) was a teacher for 10 years - with his final year in the classroom being the first year of the pandemic. He experienced first-hand the mixed messaging, misinformation, and chaos of that first year including when schools reopened early and when school leaders were receiving a constant stream of bulletins and changing advice (sometimes sent out the night before the directive had to be implemented). Oliver was teaching when it was reported that schools were not a vector of transmission and when experts confidently said that COVID-19 didn’t affect children.
In his last year of teaching Oliver was elected to South Somerset District Council (March 2020) and was subsequently elected to Somerset County Council (May 2022). He is now the Vice Chair of the Children’s Service Scrutiny Committee and has advocated consistently for action to protect children from COVID-19. After a fateful meeting with a child living with Long Covid, Oliver became motivated to act. At Somerset County Council he has worked to highlight the number of children not fully vaccinated (over 90%), discovered that Public Health isn’t keeping records about how many children are suffering from Long Covid, and has pushed for clear public health messaging in Somerset’s schools.
Frustrated by the advent of “Living with COVID” guidance and inspired by the Corsi-Rosenthal movement in the US, Oliver set up a fundraiser to buy component parts so he could start donating free air filters to schools with All Saints Primary in Montacute being the first school in Somerset to have an air filter in every classroom. Oliver has achieved major press coverage on the radio and BBC (print). He was also interviewed as part of an ITV series on the effect of COVID-19 on children.
Oliver is concerned about “warm hubs” in the UK this winter, and the risks inherent in bringing elderly folks together in spaces where ventilation is likely to be poor. He is therefore expanding his air filter offer to warm hubs.