Lambeth’s new town hall leader and Vauxhall’s MP are leading a campaign to keep a permanent memorial to people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic, facing Parliament and yards from a top hospital.
Over 200 MPs, Peers and Mayors have come together today to write to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge him to support a campaign for the Covid-19 Memorial Wall to become a permanent site.
The Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones.
The letter was signed by 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors and spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall after losing his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus.
The wall has since become a place for people to come together to reflect on the tragedy of the virus and to begin to heal.
The letter states: “Given the poignancy of this site, the need to give grieving families a place to mourn their loved ones, and your previous commitment to a national Covid memorial, we, the undersigned, support calls to make this wall of hearts a, if not the, permanent memorial to the victims of the pandemic.”
Among the signatories of this letter are over 160 MPs from across the House of Commons as well as numerous members of the House of Lords.
Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall said: “I visited the Covid Memorial Wall which is in the heart of my constituency by St Thomas’ Hospital on the first day it was established.
“Meeting family members and campaigners there, I was so moved by their dedication to ensure that we do not forgot the many lives lost during this pandemic.
“That is why I fully support their campaign to make this very personal and profound memorial permanent and I will continue to work with all the parties involved to make this happen”.
Cllr Claire Holland, Leader of Lambeth Council said: “Bereaved families came together in their grief and create this heartbreakingly beautiful site as a powerful memorial to those who have been lost to Covid-19.
“This deserves to remain in place, and it is fitting it is located in the heart of our capital at St Thomas hospital where thousands of NHS staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
“Lambeth Council is committed to doing all we can to facilitate this as a permanent testament.
“I am grateful to all those across Parliament who have come together to support calls for the Covid Memorial Wall to remain permanent and look forward to working with bereaved families to make this happen.”
Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “The Memorial Wall has brought many thousands of bereaved families across the country together in ways that we could never have imagined, it’s been utterly overwhelming.
“We’ll never get back the people we’ve lost, but having a shared space for our collective memory, to share our loss and our love, has meant so much.
“It is unthinkable that the Wall would be taken down, when it is so important, to so many.
“Seeing this support from MPs across parliament for it to be made permanent has been heartening, and we sincerely hope the Prime Minister will join them.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Florence Eshalomi MP, in whose constituency the wall resides, are also signatories.
Afzal Khan MP said: “The Covid Memorial Wall is an extraordinary site and deeply moving.
“I had the privilege to visit the site last month where I left messages to remember my mum and both my parents-in-law whose lives were so cruelly cut short by this virus.
“I hope one day to be able to bring my children and grandchildren to see these messages and the wall for themselves.
“It is fantastic to see such support across Parliament and the country for this campaign, it just goes to show that while we may not always be united in our politics, we are all united in our grief for those lost to the pandemic.”
The campaign for the National Covid Memorial Wall to remain a permanent site is supported by local MP Florence Eshalomi as well as Lambeth Council.
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