GMIAU social media volunteer Max Goddard wrote this blog post, reflecting on the role of key workers in the Covid-19 crisis.

When COVID-19 plunged our country into darkness, it was our key workers who stood tall with torches, ready to lead us to light. We do not know how long lockdown will last, although many have started to become accustomed to the new way of life, as working from home has become the norm for some industries. On the other hand, the lockdown has brought significant social and economic difficulties to other individuals; it is all relative. 

Despite one’s individual experience, almost all would have faced a more dire situation without the tireless work of our key workers, which helped to retain some levels of normality. 

A few examples include: 

  • Delivery drivers who have ensured those at high risk of contracting COVID-19 still received their groceries.
  • Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have prevented our NHS from collapsing, currently fighting worst pandemic in over 100 years.
  • The agricultural workers that have continued to put food on our plates.
  • The supermarket workers have kept our nations shelves stocked, despite incessant stockpiling.

One cannot even imagine the situation we would currently be in if not for our key workers.

The UK, now past the peak of COVID-19, is looking to the future. We must consider the place of key workers in this future. Although they helped to retain some normality in unprecedented times, do we want to return to what was considered ‘normal’? Hopefully, COVID-19 will prompt a long-overdue revaluation of our key workers, who for years have been underpaid, undervalued, and undermined.

Darren Smith’s poem “You Clap for Me Now” perfectly encapsulates the current hopes and fears of foreign key workers. Each line is read out by a first, second or third-generation immigrant: thirty-nine key workers from nineteen different nationalities.