The 23rd of March - the day the UK entered the first national lockdown - is a standout date from a year no one will be able to forget.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have sadly lost their lives to Covid-19. Imagine the Olympic Stadium at full capacity, doubled. The immense collective loss felt by the country over the last twelve months has been palpable.
As we tentatively take steps towards better times ahead, we must be cautious not to forget all the lives lost and all we have endured. That is why we are calling for the government to instate a national Covid Memorial Day to remember all the lives lost and all the lives changed during the pandemic.
This day will offer an opportunity for the country to unite and reflect on the all of the sacrifices made during the pandemic, remember how communities pulled together to support one another under the most difficult of circumstances, and remember all those whom we lost along the way.
A year of lockdowns and loss has been incredibly hard, but it has also been peppered with unprecedented acts of kindness and generosity, creating a constant spirit of togetherness throughout – from Captain Tom’s 100 laps to a making a racket on our doorsteps every Thursday in support of our key workers. When we stand for a minute’s silence at 12 noon on the 23rd of March, we do it to remember all those departed – but also to express our gratitude for those heroes who continue to work tirelessly, putting others far before themselves.
We propose that a new Covid Memorial Monument be erected on Whitehall to provide a place of reflection where wreaths can be laid. The memorial will serve as a permanent reminder for future generations and for governments to come to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic and to treat pandemic preparedness as a prerequisite, not as an afterthought. This monument is a memorial for everyone who has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and that is why we are asking for public consultation on the design of the monument, so it is representative of individuals’ lived experiences during the pandemic.
We must mark this date, not only for those who have lost loved ones, but also as a day of recognition and thanks for all frontline workers who have sacrificed so much. The day should serve as a day of commemoration, so that both the victims and the heroes of this pandemic are remembered for generations to come.