OPINION: I clap for carers every week - and am proud to do so

PUBLISHED: 11:57 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:15 28 April 2020

Thorpe House Care Home staff are joined by fire fighters, police, and local residents at Griston to thank the NHS and all carers in the Clap for Carers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Thorpe House Care Home staff are joined by fire fighters, police, and local residents at Griston to thank the NHS and all carers in the Clap for Carers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

Editor David Powles on why he’s proud to clap for NHS workers and carers - and doesn’t believe it should be politicised.

I clap for our NHS workers and carers every Thursday at 8pm.

I’m proud to clap for our NHS workers and carers every Thursday at 8pm and will continue to do so.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be better paid and their efforts properly recognised once this is all over.

It doesn’t mean I don’t want them to receive effective PPE and be better protected for the amazing sacrifices they are making - and have always made.

And it doesn’t mean I don’t believe there are tough questions to be asked of our government over the way the coronavirus epidemic has been handled.

It does mean I chose to show those NHS workers and carers that I, along with millions others, recognise what they are doing for this country.

It also means I chose to use the weekly clap as one way to show my children, who join me on the drive of our house every week, that our NHS is, while not without its flaws, something to be cherished and protected.

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And yes, it also means I enjoy there being one activity a week where both my neighbours and I can come together, safely take part in something in unison and check that everyone is okay and still smiling. We all need a bit of stability and familiarity to anchor to right now and I think it’s fine that 8pm on a Thursday has become one of those things.

What it also means is that I do not agree with the politicising of the weekly clap that we’ve seen from some quarters, which has turned it from something positive and genuinely moving, to yet another thing that threatens to divide and lead to antagonism.

There is a view that those who chose to take part in the clap are by default betraying NHS staff and carers for some of the ways they’ve not been best treated in recent years.

Yet surely the reality is more nuanced than that? Surely people can still hold their opinions about how the NHS has been managed and still make the effort to show those impacted by decisions made at the top that they appreciate what they’re doing?

Just because I choose to clap, doesn’t mean I, or others, won’t fight for better NHS staff pay, rights and protection now and in the future.

And have those who are now criticising the weekly clap actually spoken to NHS staff themselves? I have and all of them said it has moved and touched them - but also hope it leads to more understanding of the challenges they face and encourages even more people to stick up for their rights in years to come.

History repeatedly shows this country is at its best when unified. That’s why, decades on from the Second World War, people still talk of the Blitz Spirit. That’s why, when we were going for gold in the 2012 London Olympics (and when we briefly do well at football), the nation’s well-being is sky-high.

Conversely, history also shows this country to be at its worst when divided (all too often by politics). Take Brexit for instance and some of the lack of tolerance and acceptance of opposing views that we’ve seen from both sides of the coin. Too often these days we seem unable to partake in calm and reasons debate without it getting personal.

I don’t want clap for carers to become the next Brexit. Something that leads to bitterness and anger. Debate is healthy, should happen, but can do so elsewhere.

Right now, given we have no sport to get behind, no football to unite communities as one, I think the weekly clap is the best we’ve got. It’s something we need and something to be proud of.

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