The first case of COVID-19 in the UK was discovered on the 31st January 2020 and now, nearly 12 weeks since this announcement, we find ourselves in the most extraordinary circumstances that many of us would never expect to see in our lifetime. Confirmed cases of the infection in the middle of April have now reached nearly 100,000 in the UK, with the death toll reaching just over 12,000. With pubs, clubs and theatres closing towards the end of March, followed by school closures and social distancing measures, and more recently enforcing a restriction of non-essential time outside of our homes – there’s one thing that has remained in spite of our lives being turned upside: the dedication of our keyworkers.
Comprising of NHS staff, care workers, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, the police and all of those behind the scenes that keep all important public and private organisations running, keyworkers are those that are deemed vital with the national effort in our fight against coronavirus. Doctors and nurses have been working tirelessly to treat patients with the virus, supermarkets have been run off their feet with the extra demand on products such as toilet roll, pasta and tinned goods, and carers have been providing extra visits to those most in need. So, out of everything that has happened so far, where has ‘Clap For Our Carers’ come from and what does it mean?
What is ‘Clap For Our Carers’?
Initially created as a hashtag on Twitter #clapforourcarers, the idea of showing the appreciation and gratitude for everything that our keyworkers are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic was developed by Londoner Annemarie Plas. She was inspired by similar events happening across Europe and wanted to bring the clap for our caregivers initiative to the UK. Her idea meant that at a chosen date and time, everyone who wanted to show their support and gratitude for all of our frontline workers should give them a round of applause outside of their home as a sign of unity and gratefulness.
After trending all day on social media, Annemarie’s plan came into fruition, and on Thursday 26th March at 8pm hundreds of thousands of people clapped for our carers up and down the UK. Some stood at their balconies clapping and others came outside their front door to give their round of applause; some were even heard tapping saucepans with wooden spoons outside their homes. It was a wonderful moment that brought about a real sense of community spirit and togetherness. But how did it make those on the frontline feel? We’ve spoken to some of our carers and staff at Helping Hands to find out.
Helping Hands staff and carers response
At Helping Hands, we have over 6,000 carers across England and Wales, making hundreds of visits every day to those that are elderly or vulnerable and in need of extra support at home. One of those carers is Joanne Miller, who provides care in north London.
“I am so grateful and proud to be a part of Helping Hands, it gives me confidence in myself, and what my role means to our customers, that we have a responsibility to keep them reassured and safe. Clap on Thursday for us carers and all the key workers and NHS on the frontline. I am so proud that my boys and family all join in, it makes it all worth the risk we face every day. To know that our community and country understands our hard work at this time gives me goose bumps; I am very proud.”
With over 100 branches in many towns up and down the country, we aim to reach as many people as possible who need help at home. Sophie Pritchett, our Branch Manager for Barnet, shares her thoughts about the weekly event.
“Every Thursday at 8pm, we all stand together as one and clap for our carers. Here at Barnet, we are sharing our videos and pictures of our streets when our nation comes together. I struggle to find the words to say how proud I am of my care staff going through this current pandemic, and without such an amazing team working as a family, it wouldn’t be possible to keep providing our exceptional care.”
Our team that cover care in Gloucestershire express their thoughts in images…
India Hickey, Gloucester & Cheltenham Branch Manager, who holds the ‘much!’ sign above, said: “Although we do this job because we have a passion for supporting those who are vulnerable and in need of care, the increase in appreciation that we are receiving in light of this pandemic is extraordinary. While these are uncertain and scary times to be working in care, I truly believe that it is also the most rewarding, because we know how much of a difference we making to our customers and their families. Our carers have been nothing short of incredible, and haven’t faulted in their can-do approach! The appreciation like Thursday’s clapping at 20.00 is such a great moral boost and makes anyone working on the ‘front line’ proud to be doing so!”
It’s clear that coronavirus has had a profound effect on us and is something that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. It’s been quite a negative time for many people – not being able to go to school, losing jobs, being cut off from family and friends and, of course, contracting the virus itself and becoming mildly ill, very poorly or sadly, passing away. But perhaps one of the positives that we can take from this difficult period is the community spirit that has shone through in so many places across the country. From helping out elderly neighbours with their shopping, to adorning our windows with colourful rainbows – we really do pull together when times are tough. And this has been epitomised by ‘Clap for Carers’.