How will we honour our Covid heroes?

Should our two great cathedrals and the Liverpool Arena be the backdrop for acts to commemorate all the heroes who kept us going during the pandemic which hopefully is now being tamed?

On Friday, which is one year on from the day that the first known Covid death was recorded in the UK, there has been a call for a minute’s silence to commemorate and honour those who have died in our area from this dreadful scourge. I fully support that call and will myself be silent for a minute’s reflection on what has happened in the City, the Country and the World.

But this has brought into the forefront of my mind three questions which have been hovering in the back of it for some time:

  1. When should we commemorate the heroes who have helped us survive the worst effects of the virus and are beginning to see us safely through to a post-Covid era?
  2. Who are those heroes?
  3. What should such a commemoration look like?

Let me deal with each of these in turn:

Firstly, I think that the time to start thinking about this issue is now and to think of doing it in September. Of course, we cannot be sure at this stage of anything at that can be done that far ahead but September seems to be a reasonable way ahead for every adult to have been vaccinated twice and for us to be able to start to do things together.

It gives us plenty of time to plan but also enables us to plan in a flexible way so that we can chop and change what we will do if we need to do so. It will also enable us to do things in the open air which I think will be important because there will still be some reticence from some people about events inside buildings.

Secondly, who should be thanked. This gets a bit more complicated and I think has three elements:

  1. Those who gave their lives, especially in the health and care services caring for those with Covid. Our health and care staff, often low paid, have paid a huge price in terms of mortality.
  1. Those from our health and care services and the other emergency services who have sacrificed so much time and have seen such terrible things as they cared for the sick, the dying and their loved ones.
  1. Everyone else who kept vital services going such as the refuse collectors who gave a welcoming touch or normality as they kept our bins emptied and the streets cleaned; the shop and supply chain workers who kept us fed; the delivery drivers who turned up at our doors with those little parcels and treats which we so delighted in!

Perhaps on top of these specific groups there is another category who should be thanked – all of us! I have heard so many stories from throughout Liverpool of the ways in which we have all cared for families, our friends and our communities in so many ways from little things like chatting to lonely people to ensuring that there was food for us all to eat.

Thirdly, how should we commemorate what has happened. There are those, such as our former mayor who thought it should be like a football success parade with marches and flags. I don’t think that this meets the mood of our City and its people.

I suggest a two-level approach to this:

Some big celebrations in our City Centre where our two great cathedrals and other centres of worship provide services of commemoration not only in a religious sense but in a community sense. They are both very good at this sort of thing!! At our Liverpool Arena we could have a bigger thanks session which would be fun. I’m thinking of that great spectacle which launched the 2012 Olympics as a potential way forward.

But I think that most of the action should take place in our communities. We stood together street by street, community by community and we should celebrate in the same way.

What about a weekend in which the big events take place on the Saturday but events in streets, community centres and local parks take place on the Saturday with free road closure actions provided by the Council?

Of course, there are just my ideas as an individual and are nothing to do with my Party. You might have better ideas and you might be willing to spend time doing things at a city-wide or community level.

I’m going to send this blog by email to two places. Firstly, to my fellow political group leaders and chief officers in Liverpool to see what appetite there is within the Council, NHS etc for this type of commemoration.

Secondly, I will send it to the Liverpool Faith Forum to see what interest they have in the idea.

Above all I’d love to hear what you think about the best ways forward. You can always drop me a line at Richard.kemp@liverpool.gov.uk

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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