Let me start by saying that I think the work that every single person who falls under the ‘carers’ group has been doing is utterly astounding and I’ve never had more respect for each and every one of them. Between the stories online, the news coverage and stories first hand from people I know, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride that we are a country who are lucky enough to have these incredible people.
Without them we simply would not have been able to overcome the biggest threat most of us will face in our lifetimes, COVID-19. From the janitors, doctors and nurses to the carers, delivery drivers and shop assistants. Each of you put your health and safety on the line to ensure the safety of the masses and this country will be forever indebted to you all for that.
I remember the first clap for carers, on 26th March 2020, I stood outside my door and the sheer echo of claps and screams was so overwhelming and instantly brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. A simple act that brought together whole communities, strangers, news broadcasters and public figures.
For the next 10 weeks, every Thursday at 8pm the nation flocked to their street or their windows and doors and clapped to show our respect and thanks to those who have helped us through this dark time.
Thursday 28th May 2020 marked the 10th and the last national clap and this blog is about whether I think it’s right to end it and my opinion is that yes, it is time to stop.
Stopping this doesn’t mean we are any less thankful for the work people are doing or any less respectful. However, I know from looking out my window and sometimes walking the streets on a Thursday at 8pm, there have been less and less people clapping each week.
Annmarie Plas, the creator of Clap for Carers agreed that this should be the last one, through fears that it is becoming politicised and that it should stop while at its peak to have most impact.
In a statement to The Guardian, Plas said that the clap is something everyone can do to show their respect and appreciation but fears it’s being seen at patronising as the majority of people clapping can’t make any fundamental change for these carers such as signing their pay cheque, which falls on higher powers. Plas thinks it was fitting to end it while there were still positive feelings about it, so as not to tarnish its original intent.
Dr. Meenal Viz said to the BBC that although it was heart-warming to see the public showing their appreciation during this simple act, seeing politicians with the power to make real change and help the NHS standing at their doors and clapping was almost like a show, and others have said this made it look like an empty display of appreciation.
While people have meant well while flocking to their streets to clap, the news coverage of people standing in crowds together – forgetting the reasons this clap came about – was at times distressing to see. It was showing people standing together with other households, yes showing their support, but also breaking the social distancing guidelines set out by government and possibly putting people at risk of catching the virus.
There was an uproar when images of people crowded on Westminster Bridge to clap surfaced on social media, shoulder to shoulder with strangers and again, putting themselves and others at risk of catching the virus, which would put more strain on the NHS and other healthcare services.
I agree it was right to end it on the 10th clap for all the reasons mentioned above. However, this doesn’t mean it’s over for good. It has been set out to become an annual celebration, with the next clap being on 25th March 2021, one year on from the initial show of appreciation.
While the Clap for Carers has come to an end, one thing is for sure: Never will we forget the tremendous efforts every single worker has put in during the pandemic and we will forever be grateful.