The mark of respect on the evening of Saturday July 4, will be followed by “a moment of thanks and connection” the next day, when there will be one last country-wide clap for the NHS, care staff and all key workers, after which, people will be encouraged to stay out to raise a glass or have a cup of tea with their neighbours.
The “biggest thank you” has been established by both the NHS and the newly-founded /Together coalition, and aims to build a national moment where the public can thank everyone who has helped them during the last few months – and one that aims to reinforce the social connections we will need to get through the next stage of the crisis.
In a joint letter published today, dozens of individuals and groups have voiced their support for making Sunday July 5 as a day to bring people together to connect with neighbours and their communities, to say thank you to all those who are helping us through the Covid-19 crisis, including Leeds Imam Qari Asim, Leeds Makkah Mosque, and Kim Leadbeater, ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation
In Yorkshire, there will be a double celebration at the Airedale Hospital in Skipton which shares its 50th birthday with the anniversary of the NHS.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, said: “Over recent months our nurses, doctors, therapists, support staff, paramedics and countless other NHS colleagues have had to contend with the greatest challenge in the health service’s history. But we could never have done it alone, and we’ve been helped and sustained by fellow key workers and by carers and volunteers who together have looked out for others and kept the country running.
“So as we mark the NHS’s birthday we want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole NHS to all those who have played their part in tackling this horrible coronavirus pandemic. To the teachers, care staff, transport and shop workers, as well as the armed forces, volunteers and local authorities. And in particular, thanks to the public whose support has meant so much – from the children who put rainbows and NHS signs in their windows, to all those who saved lives by staying at home to slow the spread of this terrible virus.”
The weekend of thanks has been backed by Annemarie Plas, the founder of the Thursday night #ClapForOurCarers. She said she hoped July 5 would become a “which unites us in a countrywide ‘Thank You’”.
Now is the time, she said, to expand the gratitude shown to care staff to “everyone whom has and is still helping us through this crisis”.
She added: “Thursday nights were a moment to show our appreciation but also became a moment to check-in with our neighbours and have some human contact.
“Uniting, coming together and the acknowledgment that we all need each other is something we need now more than ever.”
Archbishop Justin Welby, chair of Together, said: “This crisis has in many ways made us more grateful for each other and more indebted to the workers who put themselves at risk to keep our country running and protect the vulnerable. It has shown people at their best – volunteering, helping neighbours, protecting those at greatest risk, pulling together as communities to support one another.
"My sincere hope is that this weekend will serve as a powerful moment of remembrance, thanks and connection, as we come together and commit to helping to create kinder, closer more connected communities.”
Imam Qari Asim, Leeds Makkah Mosque, said: “The NHS is one of the great unifying institutions that brings us all together. It’s there for all of us in times of need and it will be a magnificent moment on its anniversary if as many of us as possible can show that we are here in admiration and support for the NHS.”
The weekend will build on the annual Great Get Together, which is held in memory of the murdered Batley MP, Jo Cox, with events across Yorkshire on June 19-21. The Jo Cox Foundation is a founding member of /Together.