Everybody across the country is being encouraged to come together, on Sunday 5th July, the birthday of the NHS, for a shared moment to thank not only NHS staff but all the key workers, good neighbours and everyone who is helping us all to get us through this difficult period.
The NHS is working with the newly founded /Together coalition – of which British Future is proud to be a founding member – to help build this national moment of thanks and also of social connection. /Together is asking people to use this opportunity to meet and chat with neighbours, reinforcing the social connections we will need to get through the next stage of the crisis.
In a joint letter dozens of individuals and groups, including British Future Director Sunder Katwala, have voiced their support for making Sunday 5th July a day to bring people together to connect with neighbours and their communities, to say thank you to all those who are helping us through the Covid-19 crisis.
Supporters of the initiative include grassroots community leaders, carers, emergency workers, sportspeople, religious leaders, celebrities and organisations including the CBI, trades unions, the Scouts and Guides.
The covid-19 crisis is causing immense hardship and suffering and has come at a time when our society was already struggling with rising loneliness, profound inequality and divisive political debates. But this in many ways the crisis has shown people at their best – volunteering, helping neighbours, protecting those at greatest risk, pulling together as communities to support one another.
New polling by ICM for the /Together campaign finds that the country feels more connected than it did prior to the crisis. Some 6 in 10 people (60%) say that “Overall, the public’s response to the coronavirus crisis has shown the unity of our society more than its divides.” Just 15% disagree.
The two key moments during the weekend will be:
- A moment on the evening of July 4th when people will be asked to light a candle in their window in remembrance of all who have died during this time.
- A day of thanks and connection on July 5th when we take part in one last country-wide clap of thanks and then stay out to raise a glass or have a cup of tea with our neighbours.
Annemarie Plas, founder of the Thursday night #ClapForOurCarers, said:
“Over the last ten weeks millions of people came out to clap those who went to work so we could safely stay indoors. Now is the time to expand this gratitude and acknowledge everyone whom has and is still helping us through this crisis.
“Thursday nights were a moment to show our appreciation but also became a moment to check-in with our neighbours and have some human contact. I hope we can make the 5th July a day which unites us in a countrywide ‘Thank You’ and that shifting the moment to earlier in the day will mean those kids who go to bed before 8pm can really take part. Uniting, coming together and the acknowledgment that we all need each other is something we need now more than ever.”
Kwame Kwei Armah, Director of the Young Vic said:
“At a time when there is so much emphasis on what divides us, giving thanks and connecting with our communities is one of the things that unites us. I hope we can all take a moment to mark it and be part of building the closer communities that we’ll need in the future.”
Justin Welby, chair of Together steering group, added:
“This crisis has in many ways made us more grateful for each other and more indebted to the workers who put themselves at risk to keep our country running and protect the vulnerable. It has shown people at their best – volunteering, helping neighbours, protecting those at greatest risk, pulling together as communities to support one another. My sincere hope is that this weekend will serve as a powerful moment of remembrance, thanks and connection, as we come together and commit to helping to create kinder, closer more connected communities.”
Ruth May, Chief Nursing Office for England, said:
“The NHS’s birthday is an important moment when we say thank you – to staff across the health service, but also to all those who have supported us as we’ve been tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone’s had a part to play, and community spirit has been one of the few positives of this time. Throughout its history the NHS has brought the whole country together, treating everyone based on need not ability to pay. So we’re honoured that the /Together coalition have chosen the NHS birthday to pull the country together.”
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said:
“Over recent months our nurses, doctors, therapists, support staff, paramedics and countless other NHS colleagues have had to contend with the greatest challenge in the health service’s history. But we could never have done it alone, and we’ve been helped and sustained by fellow key workers and by carers and volunteers who together have looked out for others and kept the country running.
“So as we mark the NHS’s birthday we want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole NHS to all those who have played their part in tackling this horrible coronavirus pandemic. To the teachers, care staff, transport and shop workers, as well as the armed forces, volunteers and local authorities. And in particular, thanks to the public whose support has meant so much – from the children who put rainbows and NHS signs in their windows, to all those who saved lives by staying at home to slow the spread of this terrible virus.”
/Together is a coalition that everyone is invited to join, from community groups across the country to some of the UK’s best-known organisations. Its aim is to bring people together and bridge divides, to help build a kinder, closer and more connected society. More information at www.together.org.uk