Thursday, October 21

‘It was surreal to watch’: How the life of the woman behind Clap for Our Carers changed | NHS


men those strange and endless days of spring closure, what marked the moment for many of us in the UK was the weekly round of applause for NHS staff and other key and care workers. Every Thursday at 8 pm, people would stand on doorways or lean out of windows, clapping (or yelling or banging pans) in appreciation of those who worked in difficult circumstances. The first, on March 26, took place three days after Boris Johnson addressed the nation, and knowing what was happening across the country created a rare feeling of unity, as well as introducing many of us to our neighbors. for the first time.

Similar events have taken place in Europe; Annemarie Plas had seen them in a Dutch WhatsApp group to which she belonged. He thought it would be nice to do something similar in the UK and created an image that he posted on social media. It was shared quickly. “Within a couple of hours, I was on Victoria Beckham’s page,” he says. “It was quite surreal to see how it spread.”

Plas, who moved from the Netherlands to London in early 2018, had been teaching yoga, although the studios had closed, and was working in sales for a software company. She and her husband were also taking care of their little one at home. Suddenly, she became a spokesperson for the Clap for Our Carers movement. It took a long time, but she says, “It was such a nice thing to be a part of it. I knew it was temporary and was by no means the same stress that some people were experiencing. “

The applause, qualified by the Queen as a “expression of our national spiritAlthough created as a celebration, it also took on other nuances. People said they were “shamed” by neighbors for not applauding, and it was irritating to see politicians, especially conservatives, including Johnson, joining them despite a decade of underfunding, appalling treatment of vital NHS immigrant workers. and failure to protect them with testing and proper PPE. An NHS consultant wrote that it was “a sentimental distraction from the problems we face.”

Plas, clapping outside number 10 with Boris Johnson to greet the 72-year-old NHS.
Plas, clapping outside number 10 with Boris Johnson to greet the 72-year-old NHS. Photograph: Victoria Jones / PA

“The narrative around him was changing,” says Plas. She was glad that politicians recognized people’s deep appreciation for the NHS and key workers, but says: “It was also up to them to accept the bill and start doing more than clapping, because the applause was actually for us. , normal people. . “He realized it was time for the weekly gesture to come to an end and said he would stop supporting it after week 10.” To keep the positive impact, I thought it best to stop at that point. “

The applause didn’t stop completely. In July, Plas was invited to clap outside of number 10 with Boris Johnson, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. “I was pleased to be able to at least address things personally, for example, that the NHS needs funding,” he says. She plans to celebrate the movement’s first anniversary next year, on the last Thursday in March.

She has also been involved with Together, a coalition of groups campaigning to promote unity, and her parents were impressed to be invited to meet with the prime minister, but otherwise life has returned to what seems more normal these days. Like many of us, Plas found that weekly applause changed his immediate world for the better. “We didn’t know anyone on our street when we moved here a year and a half ago, and now we know who lives on our street,” he says. “That is very nice.”


www.theguardian.com

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