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Clap For Heroes: why NHS staff want us to rethink the event

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Hollie Richardson
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Clap for carers: NHS staff explain why we should rethink the event

Unsure about joining in with Clap For Heroes during the third lockdown? NHS staff have shared their thoughts about the event on social media.

At the start of the pandemic, the nation took to doorsteps every Thursday night to clap for NHS staff and keyworkers who were getting us through the first wave. It was a way to show our appreciation, keep spirits high and, let’s be honest, make us feel like we were doing something to help the situation.

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“I never thought clapping last night would make me so emotional and, yet, bring so much relief”

But when politicians were spotted clapping on their doorsteps, people started to question Clap For Carers. They quite rightly called for pay rises instead of claps. And, after weeks of delayed and muddled messages around the pandemic, the government’s claps for frontline workers felt somewhat disingenuous.  

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That’s why, when it was announced the weekly event would return this week and renamed Clap For Heroes, a lot of people weren’t sure if it was a good idea. We’ve seen how much pressure hospitals are under as case numbers continue to soar, and clapping doesn’t feel like the right way of acknowledging that right now. The low turnout on doorsteps last night (7 January) perhaps proved this.

NHS staff took to Twitter to explain exactly why they’d prefer people not to clap in the second wave. 

Marcelle, a respiratory nurse, tweeted: “I don’t wish to be ungracious, but please don’t clap for me as an NHS hero on a Thursday night.

“Instead, observe hands, space and face, obey your tier instructions & count your blessings not your restrictions. That’s how you honour me and my colleagues.”

NHS Million, a non-profit campaign that supports NHS workers, said in a statement on social media: “NHS staff are at breaking point. They need your support more than ever. Clapping is lovely, but the biggest present you could give us right now is to stay at home.”

“If you back our heroes saving lives, will you post a selfie for us of chilling at home?”

Izzy, a children’s A&E nurse shared: “I really liked Clap For Carers last time. It made me emotional and feel appreciated. Ten months on I feel more like this… [see above image].

“(I didn’t use to be such a negative nancy, I promise.)”

Framcoise, a pathologist, wrote: “The very best and appreciated gesture the British people can do tomorrow is NOT to Clap For Heroes/NHS but to STAY HOME/STAY SAFE and support the NHS and emergency and support services by kindness, and demanding better pay and conditions from government. Please!”

And this nurse added: “I’m a nurse. Please don’t start #clapforheroes. It feels like a hollow and empty gesture to many NHS staff. Instead:

“Stay home.

“Wear a mask when you have to go out.

“Wash your hands.

“Stop spreading misinformation.

“Don’t be selfish.

“Don’t vote Tory.”

While most of us who clapped during the first wave had nothing but good intentions, it is of course well worth listening to the people we were clapping for before stepping out onto the doorstep again.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…