Thank You: Britains unsung heroes celebrated in national thank you day

Thank You Day: Stars feature on charity single 'Don't Stop'

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Writing for the Sunday Express today, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has called on people “to fill the airwaves” by sharing their thanks and tributes on local radio stations and social media. Across the UK, people will be gathering to show their gratitude by hosting Covid safe BBQs, picnics, street parties and certificate ceremonies in honour of those who have selflessly given their time to help those in need.

Unsung heroes include people such as Averil Pooting, a Community Champion, who set up a pop-up vaccination centre at St Barnabas church, getting the vaccine to the most vulnerable in our society.

Tabitha Resta in Bedford who worked tirelessly to ensure people experiencing homelessness had access to vaccinations.

Also being praised are faith leaders, council workers, refuse collectors and millions of volunteers who delivered food parcels.

The Prime Minister will be joining the festivities with a ‘BB-Thank-Q’, hosting community leaders, NHS workers and representatives from the Royal Voluntary Service. 

Mr Jenrick MP said: “This past year has been challenging for us all. But in the darkest of times, when people were most in need, the actions of our friends and neighbours to support our communities have shone the brightest. 

“Across all faiths, ages, backgrounds and languages, our communities have shown off the best of this country.  

“You are all our community heroes and on behalf of Government I want to say thank you.” 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “Over the past year, each of us has experienced immense change in our lives, during this incredibly difficult period of time. However, we have come together, supporting our friends, families, colleagues & communities.

“As restrictions continue to ease and life begins to represent normality, it is essential that we remain kind and compassionate to one another. Today, of all days, I want each of you to say ‘thank you’ to those most important to you.”

Unsung Heroes

Sam Dorney-Smith is a specialist nurse in inclusion health in London, and is also a Fellow for Pathway Health charity. Sam mobilised health care in hotels in London at the beginning of Everyone In, ensuring that individuals had access to health care. She also advised the teams working in the hotels on how to implement interventions to protect staff and residents and keep people safe from Covid-19, such as PPE protocols.   

Tabitha Resta is a rough sleeper co-ordinator in Bedford. She worked with the local public health team to ensure that people experiencing homelessness could register with a GP and could also access vaccinations. She also co-ordinated health care into the hotel housing people experiencing homelessness.    

Averil Pooten from St Barnabas Church, Walthamstow is Filipino. She co-chaired an event about the vaccine answering questions with NHS Barts trust medical professionals and East London Mosque. Following the event, Averil got contacted by NHS Barts Trust team to set up a pop up vaccine clinic at St Barnabas’s church that was safe and free for all people who wanted to take on vaccine. Over 40 people were vaccinated as a result. Averil then got in touch with the Jesuit Refugee Centre who shared a positive message about their pop-up clinic with refugees and asylum seekers they support and other organisations. As a result nearly 100 people got vaccinated who were refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from the Philippines.  

After a Luton Council of Faiths vaccination review meeting with faith leaders, some of Luton’s Jewish congregation contacted the community council officer to know if there was help available for an elderly Jewish man (88) who needed his 2nd dose of vaccine and he was having difficulty getting through to his surgery. The officer made arrangements and this elderly man was vaccinated on 30th March at 13.45 during the Jewish religious festival and observance of Passover. The story offers an everyday example of how people of different faiths have pulled together in the pandemic – the elderly person was Jewish, a local councillor who accompanied was a Muslim of Pakistani origin and the doctor who administered the vaccination was a Sikh of Indian origin and the officer was an Irish Catholic. 

With support from MHCLG funding, The Dash Charity in Slough continued to provide a full and specialised service to families fleeing to their refuges at crisis point throughout the pandemic. 33 families were fully supported throughout their stay and were provided with one-to-one support through a dedicated Refuge Independent Domestic Violence Advocate, alongside support from our Children’s Services Team where appropriate.  

Blackburn with Darwen Council identified issues around Muslim burial rites and requirements very early, including swift burial, visitation, washing and shrouding of the deceased, burials rather than cremation, congregations for burial and the need for women to be lowered into the grave by immediate blood relatives. To address these issues the Council established a strong partnership with key local organisations including the Blackburn Muslim Burial Society, Lancashire Council of Mosques, and local councillors. Together the Partnership engaged directly with Mosques, scholars, Imams, residents and the community to find acceptable solutions. 

In Birmingham, Centrala supports social integration and cohesion of Central and Eastern European communities. Many members of their community have post war traumas from war experience from their homelands. They were scared of the pandemic as it reminded them of the war in Bosnia, as it was not safe for them to leave their homes for months. Centrala’s friendly team of volunteers were there for them as an outreach support when going to appointments, including vaccination appointments. They also provided help with interpretation, booking an appointment, arranging transport or simply offering information and advice, including translation of the NHS vaccination leaflets.

Comment by Robert Jenrick

The late national hero, Sir Captain Tom Moore once said, “we will get through this, whatever is thrown at us and together we can ensure that tomorrow will be a good day”.

It has been a testing time for us all. Yet in one of the most uncertain periods in living history, the spirit of communities has never been stronger, powering our united response to the pandemic and our exceptional vaccination programme.

Britain’s first ever national thank you day is a historical day that marks a moment of hope and renewal.

From the binmen who kept vital services going, the scientists behind the vaccine, the volunteers delivering food parcels and vital medicines, our brilliant NHS staff and care workers, the faith and community champions helping to successfully rollout the vaccines, and those supporting people who sleep rough into safe accommodation – hundreds of thousands of people have stepped up to help at the darkest of times.

This says a lot about our national character – how the worst of times can bring out the best in people.  It is actions and sacrifices like this that make me so proud to be British and on behalf of the Government, I would like to thank you all for the incredible work you have done and continue to do across the country. 

As we look to better times ahead, we will continue to press forward with urgency.

Today is a day of celebration, a day where we can express gratitude to people in our communities and thank the unsung heroes who have made a difference to our communities and lives.

I want you all to join me in remembering the lives lost, and  by extending our gratitude and thanks to the unsung community heroes who make a big difference through small acts of kindness every day.

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