Week 5: #ClapforHeroes
This week a 99 year old man walked around his garden 100 times and raised £23m for ‘NHS Charities together’. People were participating in clap for heroes on Thursday at 8pm and Westminster Bridge was (ironically) filled with supporters who were turning a blind eye to social distancing rules.
I love the well wishes and support. Seeing tube stations lit up with ‘Thank you NHS’ after work does makes me smile and feels directly like a ‘thank you’ for the shift I just worked. Food is delivered to A&E every day, often we get deliveries twice/three times a day! The NHS is inundated with people and businesses showing their gratitude and for that I am very thankful, it is much appreciated.
I was very happy when I was given 4 easter eggs this easter from work. Thats more easter eggs than I’ve had in the entirety of my adult life. Just yesterday a charity donated a bag of groceries individually packed for everyone in A&E (and I imagine other departments). Inside was a baguette, a packet of pasta, a banana, a protein bar and a carton of 6 eggs. Meanwhile, my friends and family members have been messaging to check in and all have been very kind. I would very much like to say thank you to everyone for the support.
I do not for a second wish to seem ungrateful for the nationwide effort to support the NHS but I do have some doubts about wether thinking of the NHS as a charity is a harmful stereotype to purport. The NHS is a public service that is funded by taxes, the fact that it has been left in a position where people feel the need to donate their hard earned, already taxed earnings does raise some questions.
What will the money be spent on?
It is also unknown what the money will yet be spent on. A guardian report suggests established NHS charities such as Guys and St Thomas’s can apply for grants. This would be to fund wellbeing projects, refreshments and relocation funds for the staff. Apparently the money cannot be spent on core necessities such as paying wages etc. This makes me wonder if the money could even be used to procure/manufacture PPE. Meanwhile, many news articles now suggest hospitals, hospices and care homes are struggling to supply staff with a safe amount.
This raises a topic I wanted to address this week which is the insistence on branding health-care staff as heroes. This is especially apparent in the clap for heroes practice. Before lockdown, my friend told me her dad was visiting pret to grab an NHS free drink. During this, he was approached by a stranger, only to be heralded for being a ‘hero’ and thanked profusely. This made for a rather awkward/borderline uncomfortable exchange as he thanked her whilst also trying to explain that he ran a clinic and was just doing his job.
In my opinion branding NHS workers as #Heroes during clap for heroes, makes the tragic loss of life almost explainable, rather than the atrocity of what it is. If NHS workers are making a ‘heroic sacrifice to save lives’ by turning up to work, it brands us as martyrs, rather than what we are. People. Every nurse, doctor and healthcare worker is a normal person. Yes brave, yes hardworking and yes rather selfless but still just a normal person, who does not want to die. I work as a nurse, I frequently treat covid patients, I still go into work everyday. It doesn’t make me ‘fearless’, because I’m not, I’m still fucking terrified.
Here are some of my favourite tweets from the week which express my point in tweet format.
Next post I will set up an FAQ’s page so feel free to comment any questions you have for me to answer!