Covid in Leeds: How key workers, NHS staff, volunteers and communities are fighting back

They have always been there, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make our streets safer, keep patients healthy or care for our loved ones.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 11:45 am
A national 'Clap For Carers' took place every week during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic in England.

But when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, it brought with it an appreciation of the unsung heroes of society: key workers.

These unseen workers continued giving 100 per cent in the background while the country was plunged into lockdown, keeping our nation ticking over.

Such was the contribution of medics and carers in particular, a nationwide ‘Clap For Carers’ became a regular weekly feature, as thousands took to their doorsteps to applaud their efforts.

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But there were other unseen heroes that emerged throughout the pandemic, too.

Neighbours threw open their arms - socially-distanced, of course, - and their doors to help people on their own estates and beyond in their hour of need.

For some, it may have been as simple as a wave through the window to an elderly neighbour forced to isolate.

But for others, it was a bag a shopping left on a doorstep that they so desperately needed.

And volunteers played a crucial role, too.

Click here to nominate your hero during the Covid pandemic for a Yorkshire Big Thank You AwardPrime Minister Boris Johnson and his scientific counterparts put out a rallying cry on national television, alongside an NHS campaign, calling for people to take up the blue banner and help prop up our national health service in its hour of need. Armies of volunteers quickly mobilised and sprang up across the nation in response.

By March 25, the number of people who had answered the call and volunteered to help the NHS in its battle with coronavirus emphatically passed the half a million mark.

The figure was double the 250,000 recruitment mark that the Government had asked for.

Mr Johnson himself was bursting with pride over the response, hailing each volunteer who would play an “absolutely crucial” role.

He added: “And to all of you, and all the former NHS staff who are coming back into the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.”

They have since been deployed to help the NHS in delivering food and medicines, ferrying patients to and from appointments and contacting people who were being forced to isolate under the strict Covid-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile, thousands of former health service medics also rejoined the NHS to help the cause, uniting with hordes of final year medical students whose careers were fast-tracked to get them onto the frontline and swell ranks in hospitals.

As an increasing number of positive tests, hospitalised patients and a rising death toll, the national lockdown in March continued through to May during the so-called ‘first wave’ of the coronavirus pandemic in England.

Teachers and school staff were then held aloft for their stoicism, as schools began to fully reopen from June in a staggered format.

Many have praised the bravery of teachers throughout the pandemic. As the summer months rolled by, the scale of the challenge facing schools became increasingly clear.

Collapsed school ‘bubbles’, isolating pupils or students and staff shortages have minded everyone of just how vital teachers and school staff truly are. Charities too picked up the slack when authorities were understandably over-stretched.

Overwhelmed homelessness shelters came to arrangements with hotels forced to close, foodbanks bolstered their stock and redoubled efforts and many, many more went the extra mile for those who simply just could not.

As signs of a ‘second wave’ and rising infections rates began to appear, local lockdowns ensued. People once again found themselves isolated from family members, banned from mixing or socialising.

Entire villages, towns and cities have been cut off.

The strict measures reintroduced by the Government meant those heroes were called back into action.

They were always going to answer that call.