The COVID pandemic remains frightening and still threatens our health and economic wellbeing. But it has brought out the best in so many so here’s my top 10 I want to personally thank, writes Harriet Harman…
- NHS staff who went into work even when there weren’t enough masks and personal protective equipment to guarantee their safety. They saved all those they could and held the hands of those who passed away. All the NHS stepped up from the cleaners to the student nurses who had to work in the Intensive Care Units.
- Our care home and home care staff looking after the elderly and disabled. Like NHS staff they were working without proper PPE to start with. This pandemic should be the reminder, if anyone needed it, that this should not be low-paid but is vital highly skilled work.
- The council staff who emptied our bins and carried on all the essential services, from cleaning our streets to safeguarding children at risk. My doorstep claps were for them too.
- Our scientists. If anything can save us from this pandemic, it’s the vaccine. It was developed by scientists in Britain and all over the world working at breakneck speed. I can’t wait for my jab. Let’s hear no more disparagement of experts. These expert scientists are literally going to save our lives.
- The food banks, and all the shops and individuals who donated to them, and the volunteers who run them. It shouldn’t be necessary, but with so many losing some or all of their income and with the government compensation so woefully inadequate, food banks have been a lifeline. And they’ve made sure that those coming to get food for their families not only get the very best quality food but keep their dignity. The shame is on the government for failing to ensure people have enough money to eat, not on those who – despite working hard – have fallen through the net.
- Local businesses who’ve responded to the endless rule changes and changed what they do in order to keep their employees in work. I hope they are all able to carry on and I’m pressing the government to increase the help for local businesses. It would be a travesty if even more brilliant local businesses go to the wall because they can’t operate during the lockdown. This is especially the case for the restaurants, bars and cafes and our vibrant artistic and creative community here in Southwark. We need our arts and I will be demanding that at the end of this the government properly invest in our culture.
- Our teachers and all the staff who have kept our schools open and who’ve kept children safe in school and taught them online at home. I’m fighting for better compensation for all the extra costs and more laptops for the kids who don’t have the devices they need for home learning online.
- Our shop workers, for providing a vital public service we all rely on, and have faced angry and frustrated shoppers complaining about queuing and shortages. I’m grateful for their patience and resilience. And let’s not forget those delivery drivers who’ve got supplies out – including to those who have been shielding and not able to leave home.
- Our transport staff who went out to work to keep the buses and trains going when everyone else who could was working from home.
- Our postal workers who delivered our post everyday even at the height of lockdown.
- And to my incredible parliamentary office team who helped constituents stranded abroad to get back home at the start of the pandemic, help with Universal Credit claims, housing, immigration and all the other problems which the pandemic is making worse.
Thank you all so much. The spirit of the people of Southwark is inspiring. Happy Christmas and let’s hope for a very much better 2021.