So last Thursday, amidst the corona virus pandemic, we saw individuals, communities and the Nation come together to honour and congratulate the sheer dedication, immense hard work and the continuous gratitude of all of our NHS workers. All of course from their own homes…
It would have been impossible not to hear anything as households from London to Glasgow and from Bournemouth to Blackpool gathered outside their front doors, on top of their balconies or behind their flat window to clap, cheer or even drum: showing appreciation to all our wonderful NHS workers.
In addition it was not just “the people” showing their support. Blue lights shone upon key monuments across our country, from Wembley Stadium, Belfast’s City hall and even the Kelpies- a metal horse in Falkirk. And if that isn’t enough, even Boris Johnson and the Chancellor of the exchequer stood outside Downing street, of course a good two metres apart, giving their round of applause. However how did this all come apart, and since when did the young and the old and the rich and poor gain so much respect for our wonderful workers?
So it began as “#lightupblue”: a campaign to pay tribute to the NHS staff via exactly what it says on the tin, lighting up initially landmarks of entertainment, while organised by members of the entertainment and events industry. However this campaign spread pretty fast, as organisers used the internet as the platform to promote this cause, thus attracting many people at home to share and spread the message. Therefore it got around the country pretty fast. Meanwhile by Thursday, even the Royal Family Re-tweeted their support for the campaign, now known as #clapforcarers: saying that they were “enormously thankful” for the NHS workers. Prior to this event, we had also seen countries also on lockdown including Spain and Italy, paying similar tributes to their own healthcare staff. This way, we are not the first, nevertheless the huge success of this campaign shows the extent of the Nation’s support for the critical workers: especially during a time of crisis where we face no choice but to spend the time at home, with our households and sided with our neighbours.
However beforehand, when we were glued within the chaos of our increasingly busy day to day lives, we were in the habit of forgetting about how valuable our workers really are. The middle class in general are in the habit of often rolling their eyes at nurses, midwifes and carers. Meanwhile the pay doesn’t equal a 5th of what some of our so called top workers get, like top rate bankers and solicitors. Yet during a time like this, who is it who is needed at first hand to help save lives! And to keep everyone else afloat. …
It has only been a few days where we have been hearing the news referring to these people as our “key workers”, and although at all times these people are crucial to us all, it is only when we are trapped in our homes admits this frightening pandemic, that we as a society realise how critical these workers are. As it feels that finally we are beginning to see these people as commendable, deserving and essential members of society, who are the force to keeping the boat afloat.
Nevertheless it will be leaving one to question whether we will continue to recognise their just deserts and thus whether the state will begin to reward them accordingly. Once we have dispersed back into our busy lives, it may mean we may be likely to forget about all of our true key workers. Furthermore, will our government really be willing to increase expenditure at a genuine thanks.
It has been proven that many of our NHS workers are willing to work on their own merit, rather than in seeking any rewards. This can be seen as over half a million people have signed up, putting themselves out as front line staff to help with the staffing shortages. These range from students, who weren’t even yet fully qualified, to retired workers. Proving to us, the genuine dedication and community spirit of all: past, present and future front line staff. However due to their willing nature to work regardless of pay, it means that there is less pressure on the government to increase their wages. Though an alternative viewpoint could be that their pay does need to be increased, to attract more people to train as workers, to help resolve the staffing shortage. Though as desirable as a huge pay rise would be, at least as a gesture, no amount of money can match their values to society.
Regardless of your views on how larger pay rise NHS staff and other key workers should receive, following this pandemic, where high austerity is likely; this has so far shown to be a wakeup call to all of us. Making us realise that it is not those hunched up in a bank or office, those owners of huge corporations or even those researching into the next space craft, who are the most valuable to society. And it would be foolish to only thank the highly paid doctors and experts on this, when in-fact a huge amount of the force is on nurses, carers and any other key workers working flat out, day to day, to help us!