Today provides a moment to pause; to reflect; to remember and to smile.
One year ago today we went into a national lockdown because a virus was rampaging across the globe. We did not imagine then, the year that we have all just experienced.
Today, united as one family, we came together to remember other Mencap family members who we lost to Covid.
For our social care colleagues, there have been experiences and situations to navigate, that you cannot have possibly been prepared for - wearing PPE during that hot summer, often feeling uncomfortable and anxious; having to cover your faces which meant your smiles were not visible to the people you support; finding endless, joyous and creative ways to pass the lockdown hours; managing Covid outbreaks; coping with the inevitable shortage of staff due to shielding and self-isolating; coping with the death of colleagues and people you supported; and caring for families in their time of sadness and distress.
Other colleagues have also had to deal with loss. Many of you have struggled without the human connection at work; found being furloughed difficult to cope with; working from home hard; and many of you have had really ‘down’ days when you’ve relied on colleagues for support and care.
An anniversary is a time to remember; a time to celebrate lives that have been lived well and to remind ourselves of how those lives have touched us and made a difference. There is time today to stop and remember those that we’ve lost but we also want you to remember those that you’ve saved. All of those lives that we would have lost, had you not done everything that you did.
There is a great quote: ‘At a time of storms don’t just build shelters, build windmills’. And build windmills you did! I have seen kindness and spirit in more abundance then I’ve ever seen before.
You sustained us through this crisis. In the darkest days, when the pandemic seemed never ending, the whole organisation read the uplifting stories from our services posted on Yammer, and took energy from them. We sat on your shoulders and you carried us through this crisis.
You did all that at a time when you had so much going on in your own lives whether that was home schooling, or people in your own families being sick and passing away. You did it unselfishly. There is one word we don’t use very often and that is ‘love’. You brought such love to the people that you support, and such love to your colleagues and you shared it without question.
As well as providing a time to pause and reflect, anniversaries also mark new beginnings. We will capture all of the good that we’ve experienced this year and emerge from lockdown with a renewed purpose – bolstered by your kindness, your loyalty, your creativity, your hard work, and your compassion.