The independent London newspaper

Protect and honour the unsung heroes of the pandemic

04 February, 2021

Friends Emeka Nyack Ihenacho (left) and Gerry Lecointe

THE Covid pandemic has forcefully revealed to the world the true value of human interaction.

Cooped in our homes for so many hours, snatching a face-to-face conversation over the wall with a neighbour or a friendly smile at the supermarket till has become a rarefied treat.

The push to live so much of life online – promoted so enthusiastically by the digital smart city babble of policy-makers in recent years, has been found wanting.

We have all been drowning in a flood of phone notifications that are now replacement for the basic joy of a bit of small talk in the street with, for example, your local postie.

Postal workers are some of the many, many unsung heroes of the pandemic. While many of us have been putting our feet up on furlough, they have been out on the streets each day, as friends of Gerry Lecointe said following his death this week, (Now we’ve lost Gerry, the ‘gentleman’ postie who always delivered for others, February 4).

His loss will be felt deeply in Kentish Town, still reeling from the death of Emeka Nyack Ihenacho from Covid last year, and his comrades on the political Left who he stood shoulder to shoulder with on many pickets lines and demonstrations.

For residents on his route around Kentish Town, which he served for 20 years, he is remembered as a kind man who would stop to say hello and go out of his way to help others.

Let’s reflect on the value of our posties. Yes, the mail is late occasionally. But have some perspective. We take this kind of human service completely for granted, and it’s not just postal workers.

Supermarket workers, transport staff, school teachers – and pretty much anyone who has to go to work in a confined space with the public – have all been thrust unintentionally onto the frontline. It’s not just the NHS workers that should be getting a mental clap every night.

The vaccination programme set out to help the most vulnerable first. But the first jabs have been given to groups based on a list of medical-based categories. But what about social categories?

It is not clear year how Mr Lecointe died. But while the apparent success of the vaccine roll-out is being trumpeted from on high by government ministers, there are many sick people still asking: “What about me?”

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