GCS COVID-19 Hub: Hearts, minds and a lot of determination

Last week I walked along the National COVID Memorial Wall on the south bank of the Thames. From a distance it appears to be a normal red brick wall. But on closer inspection it is made up of thousands of hearts inscribed with the names of those who have died during the pandemic, with handwritten messages from those who loved them.

I found it a profoundly moving experience, walking past hundreds of metres of hearts, past those laying flowers, and those writing in new names.

And yet as I walked on, I also started to feel pride.

I noticed the hearts that were still blank and thought about the families that could have been writing on the wall but were instead still enjoying life with their loved ones. I felt pride in those working in the NHS, in our brilliant scientific community, in public servants across the country and also pride in government communications.

This week marks the closure of the Government Communication Service COVID hub. COVID-19 has been the largest campaign in the history of government communications. Thousands of people have been involved.

From “Stay at Home”, to “Hands, Face, Space”, to “Get Boosted Now” the team has helped prevent the spread of the virus and saved lives and livelihoods. We have tackled disinformation to support the vaccine roll out, explained the furlough scheme, and helped businesses and schools safely reopen. Our evaluation shows the campaigns prevented millions of infections and saved thousands of lives.

And so I want to say thank you.

Thank you to everyone who worked on the campaign, in the central hub, in departments and public bodies, in local government, in communities, in our partner agencies. Thank you for the late nights and the weekends, for responding to unreasonable requests, and for breaking the boundaries of what we thought possible again and again.

There are too many of you to mention by name but you know who you are. And next time you’re in London take a walk along the south bank. Take a look at the empty hearts, and take pride in the work you did.

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  • John Gomez (1)