Our frontline carers are there when we need them the most. We share seven ways you can give back and show your support
There are many vital roles out there that we have to thank for making our day-to-day lives that much easier. But there’s a special place in our hearts for the NHS, and those that work for it. At the hardest times and the highest points in our lives, we know that with just a call, help can be available.
While every system may have its flaws and delays, on the whole, we know how important of a part the NHS plays in our lives and our society - thanks to the amazing people who keep our hospitals, local practices, community teams, and all the supportive roles in between running.
If nothing else, 2020 has highlighted for us the amazing work these professionals are putting in to ensure we are looked after when we need it the most. While movements like ‘Clap for carers’ may have ended, it’s also important to note that there are still ways we can show our support. Although many NHS workers did appreciate the gesture, there were also those who found it to be more of a hollow show of support akin to virtue signalling.
Since lockdown began to ease, we’ve heard that NHS hospital staff may well soon have to return to paying for the privilege of parking at work - in some trusts, that is reported to be as high as £3.50 an hour. This announcement came just weeks after final year student nurses on paid placements were told that their placements would end early, leaving many with no income until they are able to secure a fulltime position post-registration. It hardly seems congruent with our words of gratitude and thanks just weeks earlier, does it?
It made us wonder: what can we all do to have an ongoing, positive impact whilst showing our support for the NHS?
There are many different NHS charities and organisations looking for volunteers from the local community. With volunteer centres set up across the country, many NHS trusts have volunteer managers who can help you to find out more about opportunities for you to offer help and support in your local area.
Many different organisations and charities are looking for people of all ages and backgrounds, with varied skillsets and experiences to help volunteer their time, complete specific projects, help with admin, fundraise, and more. To find out more about how you can get involved, check out the NHS website.
Sign the NHS supporters pledge
Run by the NHS Support foundation, signing the NHS supporters pledge helps tell politicians what kind of NHS we want. Run by the NHS Support Federation - an independent, voluntary organisation that is not allied with any political parties, and has been campaigning in support of the NHS since 1989 - and funded entirely by health professionals and the general public, signing the pledge can help put pressure on local politicians to prioritise supporting and protecting the NHS.
You can find out more about signing the pledge and different ways you can support the campaign.
Support NHS Charities Together
NHS Charities Together helps support over 230 NHS charities across the UK (with most of them focusing on helping hospitals to do more). Together, they give £1m every day to the NHS, and over £457m over the past year. Helping to fund major projects, pioneer research, and purchase medical equipment, NHS Charities Together enables patients to get access to healthcare when they need it the most.
Even if you can’t afford to donate, you can still fundraise or share other people’s fundraising efforts on social media - every little bit helps! If you can afford to donate, consider a direct donation to an organisation like NHS Charities Together.
Share (responsibly) and stay active on social media
Follow reputable accounts. Retweet, reblog, and share articles from reputable sources. Listen to what frontline NHS workers are saying and sharing themselves. While it can be tempting to share posts that have a sentiment we can relate to, it’s also worth taking a step back and looking a little closer before you share.
Does the post have reliable statistics, sources, or quoted news articles? Are the comment sections perpetuating bullying, trolling, or targeting specific individuals in a way that could be harmful to their mental health and wellbeing? Is the quote or article misleading, or skewing facts to make them more aligned with a specific point of view?
What we say, do, and share can have a very real impact on people. We have a responsibility to be careful and considerate in what we say and share online. Through thoughtful consideration of the issues - and who is on the other side of the screen - we can help to create an environment filled with helpful discussions, support, and debate, that can still ensure people are seeing the issues and stories we care about.
Contact your local MP
It may not sound glamorous (or even that effective), but contacting your MP and other parliamentary candidates can have an impact. MPs use the correspondence they receive to help judge what the public care about.
Raising issues about funding rises failing to match rising demand, important services that are being left behind, and ongoing underfunding and understaffing can act as a reminder that we are seeing the gaps in the system. We are hearing the frontline workers who are asking for more help, support, equipment, and funding. And we want action to be taken.
Share your experiences
Whether you’ve had an experience that has worried you - or one that has impressed you - letting the right channels know can have a big impact. Change is more likely to happen when it’s reported in the right ways.
If you’ve had an experience with really outstanding care, providing feedback can help let your local services know where they are doing well, members of staff who have gone above and beyond, and areas that might need a little more attention.
If you are sick or have any symptoms - stay at home
Covid figures may have slowed from their peak, but the pandemic isn’t the only thing that puts our healthcare system under stress. If you think you may have any symptoms of Covid, a cold, flu, or other illness, try to do the responsible thing where you can.
Continue to follow current advice given by your GP surgery or 111. If they are asking people to make online appointments where possible, to avoid coming in for repeat prescriptions, or to try and switch to online or phone communications rather than in-person, do your best to comply.
The more we do to not only look after ourselves, but also those around us who may be vulnerable, the less strain we put on frontline NHS workers. That can mean freeing up more time, resources, and energy for them to use where it is needed the most.