UK COVID-19: Why Clapping For Healthcare Workers Started

Updated on November 28, 2020

When COVID-19 was at its peak, carers and health workers around the world were run off their feet. These people became the frontline between the pandemic and the rest of us. As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes, and this was definitely true for these key workers. People working in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes were at a higher risk of contracting the virus than any other workers. With so much on the shoulders, it only seemed fitting to recognize the hard work and dedication under these hugely stressful conditions. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has always been a service that the people of the United Kingdom have always been proud and supportive of, and many were looking for a way to show it. The UK citizens decided to show their support and appreciation by taking part in a nationwide clap every Thursday evening. This was an incredibly patriotic display from the whole national community, but how did it start?

Who started the clap?

In order to boost the hard-working medical staff around the country, Annemarie Plas started the Clap for Our Carers movement. Plas began this new custom based on an idea originating in Europe. The London-living Dutch ex-pat began to promote this campaign, encouraging it to start at 8 pm every Thursday. What’s more, celebrities and various influences followed suit, encouraging the practice, and getting health workers the attention they deserved.

The Main Aspects Included: 

  • Every Thursday at 8 pm, the event took place
  • Thousands of people around the UK followed and participated
  • It showed support for healthcare and other essential workers
  • The trend spread to other countries, including the US

This show of support quickly went viral on social media, and even in traditional mainstream media. In a short amount of time people all across the United Kingdom, and in the wider world, took to the streets on a Thursday evening to clap and bang pots and pans in a show of support and appreciation for frontline health workers, as well as other essential workers in the community.

Why did it begin?

With lockdown restrictions in place, it was impossible for families to visit their relatives in care homes such as Brandywine Living as often as they wanted to, meaning that residents of these homes felt stranded and alone. However, local care workers stepped up, providing care above and beyond expectations, ensuring each resident didn’t feel alone. It meant that recognition was needed, and happily supplied, for each of the care workers who went above and beyond.

The COVID outbreak put a huge amount of strain on the essential services of communities and countries across the world. Many people were looking for a way to contribute, or give thanks, and were under stay-at-home orders or lockdowns. This simple gesture not only gave people a way to show their appreciation but also created a communal activity that people who were required to stay in could participate in. For many, it became the highlight of a dull week stuck indoors. 

What did it mean?

This show of solidarity brought people together in these trying times. With the first event, the NHS and other health workers were able to feel just how appreciated they were on a country-wide scale. The show of appreciation helped to bring people together, even though we were all apart. Participants remained in their doorways to clap or bang pots together rather than meeting in person in order to prevent viral spreading. With so many people stuck at home during lockdowns and social distancing, this also gave people a welcome opportunity to get out of their house and participate in a communal event.

At the height of the event, it encompassed not only health workers but other key workers too, including firefighters, postal workers, teachers, waste collectors, and more. Essentially, giving a shout-out to all those people helping to keep life as normal as possible during these strange times. The event ran for an impressive ten weeks before coming to a close, paving the way for a new annual movement of recognition instead.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to huge changes in our local and global society, bringing many changes to the way we interact, work, and have fun. One of the few positive changes it has made to our daily lives is the increased appreciation of healthcare workers and other essential members of our communities that have often gone overlooked previously.

When did the clapping end?

Ten weeks after the event had started, Annemarie Plas decided that the event had come to a natural end. Everyone stepped out for one last clap before the custom ended. However, this is not for good; it has now become an annual event.

Now people will have an opportunity every year to display their appreciation and thanks for these key workers in our communities. The COVID outbreak is not over and will have an impact on our lives for years to come. We can expect there to be more ways for people to show their appreciation for healthcare workers and recognize their hard work and the risks they take to protect and serve our communities. With a further outbreak of COVID-19 or another highly infectious virus, we may see a return of clapping for essential workers on a weekly basis.

Did the clapping help anyone?

Absolutely! For the key workers the clapping recognized, it was a show of great support in their work – they were not alone. For everyone participating, it became a weekly moment of joining even though we were apart, everyone moving together to support a common cause. This was one of the few positive impacts that COVID-19 has had on our communities.

These displays of appreciation and recognition were welcomed by healthcare staff and other 

essential workers. This helped to raise morale at a trying and testing time and reminded many key workers that their communities were supporting them and that their hard work, sacrifices, and the risks they were taking were not in vain.

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