Wiltshire's High Sheriff and MPs are backing a charity’s call for people to show appreciation for frontline and key workers for their efforts through the pandemic.
Wessex Community Action has launched its Acts of Appreciation campaign to encourage people to do something for neighbours and friends working for the NHS or in key roles such as shops, transport, schools, refuse collection, the postal service or councils.
Chief Executive Amber Skyring said the idea came after she was contacted by the father of student nurse Laura Morrow.
The 22-year-old, a third year student nurse at Bournemouth University on her eighth placement at Salisbury District Hospital, said: “Everyone’s morale has been so low lately. Usually we get left lots of sweets and things by visitors and that is a bit of a pick-me-up but because visitors aren’t allowed we don’t get any of that and those little things can mean quite a lot.
“It would be so nice for all of the staff here for people to do something for them that reminds them they care. And it isn’t just NHS staff, there are people who don’t even get thought about, like the binmen who have been working all this time, postmen and shop workers. They have been so underappreciated.”
Mrs Skyring said the idea of the campaign is for communities to show key workers living among them their appreciation for all their efforts through an act of kindness.
“It could be baking them a cake, delivering some flowers, fruit and vegetables or a home-made card or just offering to wash their car or help in their garden,” she said.
“We don’t have to make a special trip, just drop by while out on a walk or on the way to the shop. I think it is terribly important to show people working through the pandemic that we care. I know people who work in supermarkets who have been abused and it is just not on.”
Wiltshire High Sheriff Ashley Truluck said it is important to remember the contribution key workers have made during the pandemic. Mr Truluck, who is also chairman of Wiltshire Community Foundation, has met many voluntary and frontline workers in person and via Zoom.
“I have always felt Wessex Community Action does a wonderful job and this latest initiative is a lovely idea. It’s an opportunity for people in the community to show their appreciation for the NHS and key workers.
“All those unsung heroes who do such wonderful work to keep us all safe keep the country going deserve our thanks an appreciation.”
Miss Morrow said the NHS felt appreciated through last year’s clap for carers. “It brought everyone together behind the NHS and felt like everyone was in it together and were following the rules because they cared about saving lives,” she said. “But it’s a bit different now and it feels like attitudes have changed. It felt then like we were all in together rather than us fighting everyone’s war.”
She is working on a gastro ward that has been adapted with extra beds to take up to 27 Covid patients. “As a student I am coming home really overwhelmed by the whole thing,” she said.
“We tend to get the elderly patients who are at the end of life and have come from other wards because they have tested positive. We are losing one a shift.
“I had a chap today who is dying and his wife can’t visit because she is vulnerable so he’s on his own, it’s quite emotional.”
North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: “I warmly applaud this initiative to thank the so many people across Wiltshire who have gone above and beyond to help others throughout the national crisis of the last ten months.
“People are truly wonderful in all they do for others, and it is so often unnoticed. So I call on all my fellow Wiltshire people who may have benefited from acts of kindness, or who may have been lucky enough to have no need of them, to show our true appreciation of all the wonderful acts of kindness we have witnessed. Go on – show a bit of thanks.”
Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan added: “The smallest gesture can have such a positive effect. This lockdown has been really tough, we don’t have the warm weather of the summer and everyone has found it that much harder this time around but with the vaccine being rolled out at pace we are so nearly through this.”
South West Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison said: “I warmly support these acts of kindness to those working hard in the pandemic and people putting themselves at extra risk. I would add transport and factory and production workers who in some settings have been shown to be at increased risk of infection. They are often forgotten but deserve our thanks for helping to keep the economy going.”
Find more about how to help at wessexcommunityaction.org.uk.