How does one mark over 100,000 civilian deaths in the UK caused by Covid-19 in just 10 months? People and charities are choosing and offering a range of ways that might help those who have lost loved ones, or who simply want to do something positive amid a bleak public health disaster.
If you are moved to make a positive reaction or commemoration in response to one or more of the deaths of people from Covid-19, what are your options? How does an individual or indeed a collective group mark this painful, terrible catalogue of grief?
The number, which grows daily, passed the total of UK civilian deaths during the seven months of the Blitz in 1940-41 (40,000) on 18 June 2020. It passed the 70,000 total civilian death toll in the UK throughout the six years of the second world war after just nine months on 22 December 2020 and today stands at 108,013. That is over 50% of that previous total in just the past 42 days!
We mark the slaughter of troops in the First World War and subsequent conflicts with annual parades, physical memorials across the UK, and donations to service charities such as the Royal British Legion. But what of the signal loss of life of UK citizens from a single disease in 2020 and early 2021?
Here are six ways in which you might consider making a gift to mark the loss of one loved one or of over 108,000 people who were loved.
1. In memory gift to a charity
The death of a loved one often spurs family and friends to make a donation to a charity in their honour. It could be the deceased’s favourite charity or it might be the charity that provided care or service to them in the final years, possibly a medical charity.
These gifts could be one-off gifts or the family might choose to set up an in memory or tribute fund. This would operate for longer than, say, the period around the funeral, enabling people to set up a regular gift.
Many charities offer an in memory gift option: just ask the charity you wish to support for details.
Many charities have provided direct frontline support in the face of the pandemic, from foodbanks, to mental health support, hospice care, social care and medical support. So there are many to choose from if you wish to support a charity that has helped in the response.
2. Donation to NHS Charities Together
Donating ‘to the NHS’ has been a popular cause throughout the pandemic. In practice it has meant donating to an NHS charity, so a gift to NHS Charities Together, the umbrella body for individual hospital-based and other health charities, might be an appropriate gift. Formally called The Association of NHS Charities, ‘NHS Charities Together’ is a federation of over 250 charitable organisations that supports all the devolved National Health Service, their staff, volunteers and patients.
Equally, don’t forget that plenty of other charities and voluntary groups have supported NHS and social care staff in many ways, from arts organisations to mental health and food bank charities, not forgetting the many businesses that have donated services or products.
3. A physical memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral
Those wishing to commemorate all those who died during the pandemic might wish to donate to a physical memorial that is planned at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Its clergy created an online memorial in the early months of the pandemic. Now a permanent physical memorial is planned and funds sought, to provide “a tangible focus for grief in a place of prayer, and a permanent reminder of the human cost of the pandemic”, according to the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Reverend Dr David Ison.
It is possible that other physical memorials will be established and funds sought, perhaps to mark those from a particular area or profession (NHS workers no doubt) who died, or those who made up a disproportionate number of the dead, such as those of particular ethnic groups.
It has even been suggested that the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square be dedicated permanently to remember those who died. The empty space would appropriately symbolise the void left in so many people’s lives, and the total absence of any triumphant tackling by the government of, in the Prime Minister’s words, “an unexpected and invisible mugger”.
4. National Day of Reflection
Marie Curie is hosting a National Day of Reflection on 23 March, the first anniversary of the UK lockdown. Dr Sam Royston, Director of policy and research at the charity, says that it will be an opportunity “for our nation to collectively remember our loved ones and show support to the bereaved”. It is not intended as a fundraising appeal but some might be moved to donate in response.
5. Fund medical students and researchers
If you want to link your loved one’s name with investing in the future you might choose to fund a named bursary to support next year’s nursing and medical students. Or scientific researchers.
Which skilled staff did we not have enough of? Who will replace those medics and care staff who were burned out by their year-long experiences of the pandemic and retired early or left the profession? A named bursary fund will link the loved one’s name with the next stage in our recovery and in practical, skilled hope for the future.
6. Fund fact-checking and independent journalism
At the end of January the Prime Minister claimed on the day that the total number deaths passed 100,000 “we did everything we could”. That was the month in which 25,000 people had died.
If you find such an assertion unconvincing and self-serving, and this instils a sense of injustice or even rage, then you can join the many who have responded via “rage giving“. The phrase arose in response to actions by President Trump such as the “Muslim flight ban” in 2017, and describes donations to charities or campaign groups that offer a counter or solution to the policies or statements that arouse fear, sadness, anger and frustration.
For example, Full Fact is a registered charity that “fights bad information” by fielding “a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm it does”.
The Good Law Project is a a not-for-profit campaign organisation that aims to “defend, define and change the law to uphold democracy, protect the environment and ensure no one is left behind”.
If you think that the Prime Minister’s argument that now is still not the time for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic is self-serving and puts more people at risk, you might choose to support Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK. They are “a group of bereaved family members who have come together to seek justice in the names of our loved ones gone to soon from Covid-19″.
They “firmly believe that had the government approached the pandemic differently, truly ‘followed the science’ and ‘taken the right actions at the right times’ that many of our loved ones would still be here today.”
Their crowdfunding campaign has raised over £43,000 of its target £100,000.
— YorkshireEveningPost (@LeedsNews) January 30, 2021
If you come across other ways to give in response to one death of a loved one or to over 100,000 deaths of loved ones, do let us know in the comments below.