As the UK prepares to mark one year since the country went into lockdown to tackle Covid-19, people are being encouraged to take a moment to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of those who have sadly died from Covid and other causes during this difficult year.
The UK went into lockdown on the 23rd March 2020. It is hoped the marking of this anniversary will help people reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.
Places across the UK are marking the National Day of Reflection by lighting up yellow in the evening or putting on activities.
A Year Like No Other
The British Red Cross is marking the anniversary with the release of a documentary to recognise and thank volunteers for their work over the past 12 months. Red Cross staff and volunteers have provided 160,000 hours of support to the NHS, helping to keep 71,000 people safe and well. Volunteers have also helped more than 100,000 people receive vaccines in 100 locations across the UK.
The film, A year like no other – The British Red Cross at 150 looks at how the charity responded to challenges brought by the virus.
The virus fell during The British Red Cross’s 150th anniversary year. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the charity has reached more than 1.5m people with help, including food, medicine, ambulance support, mobility aids and teaching materials for teachers and parents.
Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy
When Aisha, 45, lost her grandmother in the first wave of the pandemic, she decided to take time off work and dedicate herself to supporting her community by becoming a Red Cross emergency response volunteer. Recently, Aisha has been helping at vaccination centres in Newham, London, providing support to people getting their jabs.
“Like many others, my general experience with Covid has been quite difficult,” says Aisha. “My grandmother was in a care home and ended up going into hospital with suspected Covid-19. Within about six hours of the test coming back, she died. Losing a loved one and being unable to say goodbye is heart-breaking.”
Aisha has also been worried for her parents who live far away and both work on the front line as GPs in the NHS – especially her father who is Pakistani and has underlying health conditions. Amid the stress and anxiety of the past year, her volunteering is what’s got her through.
“There have been so many positives,” she explains, “supporting people that you wouldn’t necessarily cross paths with because you’re focused was on work, your own life and commitments.”
Recently, Aisha has been helping at vaccination centres in Newham, London, providing support to people getting their jabs.
“The opportunity came up to help in vaccination centres, and I thought, ‘this is a brilliant’,” she explains. “Getting involved in the community has, for me, been really therapeutic. Providing support and comfort to individuals preparing to have the vaccine, some the same age as my grandmother, has helped with my own grieving process.”
Aisha has even got involved with the Red Cross’s campaign to tackle vaccine hesitancy in the BAME community, appearing on billboards and posters across the country.
She says, “There’s a variety of reasons why people feel a little uncomfortable about getting vaccinated. As a volunteer, we listen to people’s concerns and allow them to open up. We provide some words of comfort and try to put them at ease about the process.”
It’s Good to Talk
Having informed conversations with loved ones can help to keep each other protected.
If you are finding it difficult to talk about the Covid-19 vaccines with a friend or family member, you can use this guidance from The British Red Cross to help you gain confidence to have effective conversations.