Staff and volunteers remembered colleagues lost to COVID-19, as well as those who died across the NHS, the UK, and the world; as part of a national day of reflection.
Today’s event, spearheaded by end-of-life charity Marie Curie, falls on the anniversary of the UK going into the first national lockdown. The Charity estimates around three million people in the UK have been bereaved since the pandemic began – today is a moment to grieve and celebrate the lives of those lost.
Chief Executive Garrett Emmerson said: ‘This last year has had a terrible toll on London and the country as a whole, and it is important to pause for a moment of quiet reflection.
‘Today we remember London Ambulance Service, NHS and care colleagues who lost their lives to the virus and acknowledge the incredible efforts and sacrifices made by staff and volunteers to care for patients in the darkest days of the pandemic.
‘We also stand in support of families of those who died and offer our condolences to all those who are grieving.’
At the peak of the pandemic our call handlers were answering twice as many 999 and three times as many 111 calls a day from people needing help across London.
London Ambulance Service established a Wellbeing Hub in response to the pandemic which provides a single point of access to all the new services and initiatives designed to support the mental and physical health of staff and volunteers. Resources include access to counselling, wellbeing workshops and seminars and expanded peer support networks.
The Service is also offering practical support such as testing and vaccination programmes, financial advice, refreshments including packs for those isolating, and rostering that allows people to take much-needed annual leave as operational pressures ease.
Katy Crichton, Head of Wellbeing at London Ambulance Service, said: ‘This past year has been incredibly traumatic for the whole country. Our staff and volunteers have had to help more people than at any time in our history, while, in many cases, sadly having to deal with the loss of their own relatives, friends and colleagues.
‘Reflection is a vital part of the grieving process. That’s why we are marking today and why London Ambulance Service is working round the clock to provide emotional and practical support to teams so they can continue to care for London.’
The National Day of Reflection was developed by end of life charity Marie Curie and aims to give the nation a moment to remember, grieve and celebrate everyone who has died during this time and show support for our families, friends and colleagues who are grieving.
Marie Curie Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: ‘We need to mark the huge amount of loss we’ve seen this year and show support for everyone who has been bereaved in the most challenging of circumstances.
‘We cannot simply stand by and not recognise the effects the pandemic has had on the bereaved. We know people are in shock, confused, upset, angry and unable to process what has happened.’
London Ambulance Service is building a permanent memorial garden at its headquarters in Waterloo to remember all those who have died during their service.