Just a quick post as I’m feeling sad about all the negativity as “Clap for Our Carers” returns as “Clap for our Heroes” tonight. I’m shocked that something that was started as a positive gesture, by Annemarie Plas, a way for us all to show our gratitude (safely) to the NHS, carers and all keyworkers for all they have done (and continue to do) during the Coronavirus Pandemic, has turned out this way. Let’s be clear, I don’t think that everyone has to join in, I don’t mind who joins in and who doesn’t. But it was something that the kids and I did like to join in with (for reasons I’ll explain below) and I feel that those of us who did (and will) take part in the clap are being judged unfairly.
In March, life changed for everybody in the UK. In our own household, Dave moved out so he could continue to work and I stayed home with the girls shielding Danny, as he’s in the extremely vulnerable group. Every event we had planned was cancelled, our calendar for the year ahead was cleared. We didn’t see our family and friends or any other faces apart from the Postman and Delivery Drivers etc. We worried and thought especially about our friends and family who worked in the NHS, as carers and keyworkers. We sent them cards and messages and checked in on them, but we couldn’t show our gratitude enough (and never will be able to). It was amazing to see people and businesses donating food and care packs to our local hospitals (and I know this happened all over). We donated towards these, but like a lot of people felt redundant that we couldn’t do more. We had to shield Danny. We had to stay home to stay safe and we did. We did this for ourselves and also for the NHS. The last thing we wanted was to put extra strain on the NHS. The only risk we’ve taken is sending the kids back to school (a choice I personally remained against but I had to respect other’s wishes).
When the clap started we were excited. We made signs and we sent photos to our friends, family, the kid’s friends parents and all our family and friends NHS keyworkers. We joined in with the clap. Only a handful of neighbours joined in each week and that was fine. I know some people say all “the clappers” judge who is out and who isn’t. In my case that isn’t true. I can tell you who was out, I looked forward to seeing their faces each week, but I wasn’t thinking about the ones who weren’t as that’s not what this is about.
Now selfishly it was nice for us to see fellow neighbours out clapping for the NHS each week. These faces- across the road and always more than one house away- definitely far more than two metres away at all times, were fresh faces for us to see. It was nice to check how people were doing and vice versa, but that’s not why we did it, it was just an added bonus. It was designed to enhance staying at home not to defer from it.
It gave us a chance every week to remember the NHS workers, the carers, the keyworkers and all they were doing. Sometimes our days were spent so insularly- doing our remote schooling, watching the updates, ordering our shopping, keeping ourselves entertained but forgetting what these heroes were doing, while we were home in our safety bubble. So I liked having that time to really think of them and to thank them. Yes, in a way it’s a hollow tribute but I hope some NHS staff and keyworkers got a warm feeling each time they heard our thanks in the distance. I admit I got goosebumps as the tugs blew their horns and the neighbours clapped. We were in this together. I especially liked seeing footage of the (socially distanced) clapping near the hospital as tired workers left their shift. Seeing NHS workers clap for each other was particularly touching. I saw the pride in my keyworker friend’s children as they drew photos of their parents in their uniform and clapped for them the loudest. When sadly, our NHS friends fell ill with the virus, we held them in our thoughts, made them cards and sent positive get well messages as we clapped. To some that will seem strange, yes it’s only a gesture but when you can’t physically do any more, sometimes only a symbolic gesture will do.
I don’t judge non-clapping neighbours. I don’t vote Conservative. I don’t feel smug when I clap, I’m very aware that I could be doing more. I always support the NHS (since well before the Covid Crisis). I have been on protests for them. I will always support them in getting a pay rise. I will keep helping and supporting the NHS and keyworkers in other ways. I follow all the rules (more strictly than I have to even) and stay home. I would never “eat out to help out” etc even when it was within the rules. I’m a mother, someone who works from home and a carer of a shielding young adult. The only time we leave the house is to take our daily exercise (we didn’t even do this during the initial shielding). We do this again for the NHS, to keep our minds and bodies healthy so we can hopefully avoid being a burden on the NHS.
Since the announcement of the return of “Clap for Heroes” tonight, there has been such hateful negativity. The original founder, Annemarie Plas has had to step away from the movement due to abuse and threats. I’m so disappointed. It was never meant to be political or negative. Thank you for starting this Annemarie, I’m so sorry you’ve been put through this ordeal. It was meant to be a way to thanks the NHS and Key Workers, to shine some positivity into our neighbourhoods and communities at a time when we can’t meet up and get together as we usually would. I’m really unsure what to do for the best now. My instinct is still to clap but I’ve seen so many public NHS workers say they no longer want us to clap. Instead, they want us to stay home and they want their well-deserved pay rise. The NHS workers I’ve asked are still happy for us to clap. So for them, I will still clap tonight.
I still hope for a day when it is safe when everyone will be out clapping and celebrating the amazing work that the NHS and keyworkers did during this extremely difficult time. There will be a Silence and tears too of course, for all the lives lost. We’ll never get over that. But do our heroes deserve to be celebrated? Yes, of course, they do (and the clap is only a small part of the way we say thank you to them).
You can donate to NHS Charities Together here.
Help protect our heroes here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/vaccinate-our-frontline-workers
Email your MP and ask them to support an immediate NHS staff pay rise here: