It has been a year since Boris Johnson addressed the UK. Since then, there have been 2.72 million deaths worldwide. Last week we have had Marie Curie’s Day of Reflection where we remembered the lives lost to Coronavirus. We constantly talk about what the ‘new normal’ is going to look like, but the new normal is already here. The past year has been filled with such hardships. However, it has brought people and communities closer together, highlighted our amazing health service and vaccination programme. We were able to rally together and hopefully we will continue to do so, with or without a pandemic.

“The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.” – Boris Johnson

Sense of Community

Research showed that 40% of the public believed that Covid had restored our sense of community in the UK. There has been an overwhelming sense of community in the UK. Mutual aid groups formed to support communities and deliver groceries and medicines to the vulnerable 2.5 million people who have shielded. Over 750,000 people signed up to volunteer for the NHS in just four days. The weekly NHS clap saw people standing on their doorsteps banging pots and pans. Groups popped up around the UK sewing scrubs and face masks for essential workers. In Northern Ireland, 2,000 volunteers got behind their sewing machines to create essential wear for medical professionals. The UK came together to fight the challenges that we have faced throughout this pandemic.

“In times of upheaval, tragedy and shock, the strength of communities really comes to the fore. Our community like so many around the country came together at the most amazing speed to set up a basic service to ensure that no one went hungry and that there was care ready for anyone who needed it. So much negativity has surrounded the national narrative in the last 5 years…this was the much needed boost for people to connect with their neighbours, neighbourhoods and with the voluntary sector. As a local councillor here in Bermondsey, the home of Ada and Alfred Salter who 100 years ago gave their lives in service to this community, I’m most proud of the initiatives that have sprung from this Covid crisis. From food banks and education about food poverty, to green and climate groups, from befriending for those who are lonely and vulnerable to providing equipment to enable those without the means to homeschool or work. I hope that going forward, each person will have built community into their daily lives so that we don’t return to that hamster wheel and I’m excited for everything we can achieve together.” – Cllr Humaira Ali, Liberal Democrat Councillor in London Borough of Southwark


NHS and the Vaccination Programme

We celebrated the resilience of our NHS who have worked tirelessly this past year. They have adapted to the constant changing times of the pandemic, adapting new technologies and introducing remote appointments and virtual visits. The NHS have helped deliver the Coronavirus Vaccine Programme.

“Starting my first nursing job at the beginning of a pandemic was not how I imagined my career to begin. What the pandemic has demonstrated is the adaptability and work ethic of an NHS under increasing pressures and a camaraderie that is second to none. Health care professionals are receiving a variety of training and experiences as they are being rerolled to meet the demands of the pandemic. Although the past year has provided unprecedented challenges, it has also show cased the ability and resilience of our NHS and its amazing and hardworking staff.” Staff nurse, Frimley Park Hospital

Vaccine development normally takes 10-15 years, the Oxford Vaccine was developed in 10 months. What an amazing achievement. The UK’s vaccination programme has excelled, some countries will not be fully vaccinated until late 2023. So far, 29,316.130 people have been vaccinated in just a few months; we are on target to hit 32 million people by April 15th.

“With a great team at Oxford, we developed a ‘vaccine for the world’ which is now being used to save lives in many countries; our goal from the very beginning.” – Professor Sarah Gilbert

Our year at Ethel Care. 

“When the lockdown was announced, we really didn’t know how this would impact us. There was no ‘playbook’ to refer to for such an enormous situation and we were making it up as we went. In a strange sense, Ethel was built for time like this, where we could support vulnerable people remotely, but we as a business weren’t sure how to do that with each other. It was a steep learning curve. We were also on the cusp of expanding our team and hence had to resort to virtual hiring, induction etc. for our new staff. We have had to carve out dedicated time to meet each other on zoom just have a quiz and a laugh and not talk about work at all. I know I have a committed team who I can count on and I feel like I know them well, but the strange thing is I haven’t met them in person (yet). But I suppose thats the new normal!!” – Deepak Samson, CEO.

“I was volunteering with local groups at the beginning of the pandemic, and it highlighted the need for a way to reduce social isolation. I was interviewed for Ethel Care via zoom, probably the only time I will not have an in-person interview. As I am based in England and the company is based in Northern Ireland, it is an opportunity I wouldn’t have applied for before the pandemic as it would have been a long commute to work each day! Learning about Adult Social Care has been eye-opening and the fact that has stood out to me is “half a million over 60s go 5 or 6 days without talking to anyone at all” and this was before the pandemic, those figures have probably drastically increased. This past year more and more people have felt the effects of social isolation and loneliness but this has been a consistent problem for elderly and vulnerable. Being part of a team that helps support people in their own homes is so rewarding. Even though I have yet to meet the team in person, we have managed to build such a great rapport using video calling and our weekly games and quizzes! Hopefully when we are allowed to travel, we will all finally meet in person! I am looking forward to what the new normal brings and I hope our sense of community remains!” – Rebecca, Business Development Lead.