Boris Johnson refuses to promise permanent Covid memorial ‘kick in the teeth’ for families
Covid-19 Bereved Families for Justice group shared tragic stories of loss with Boris Johnson during long-awaited reunion in Downing Street
Boris Johnson has ‘kicked the teeth’ to the relatives of 159,000 Covid victims after refusing to pledge to make a poignant memorial permanent.
The Prime Minister met five members of the Covid-19 Bereved Families for Justice UK group at 10 Downing Street after more than a year of pledging to do so.
Jo Goodman, Fran Hall, Lobby Akinnola, Charlie Williams and Hannah Brady said he listened as they finally told him face to face about the tragic stories of losing loved ones.
The Prime Minister pledged that an inquiry chair would be appointed before Christmas and that bereaved families would participate in the decision.
He also agreed that his government would discuss with families the need for better bereavement support.
But the prime minister made no promises on the future of the public mural that has been dubbed the wall of hearts.
Stretching over a third of a mile along the south bank of the Thames in London, the mural consists of thousands of red and pink hearts, “individually hand-painted; very unique, just like the loved ones we have lost â.
Trainee teacher Hannah Brady, who lost her father and grandmother to Covid, told the Mirror: âWe asked Boris if he would make the wall permanent.
âHe said he could see him as a good candidate to be permanent and very emotional.
âBut he wouldn’t commit to making it permanent, which is a kick in the teeth because you can see it’s fading away.
“So we’ll continue to come down here and keep him alive as long as possible.” “
Hannah’s father, Sean Brady, 55, died of Covid in May 2020 and her grandmother Margaret Brady died aged 80 in July in a care home in Wigan.
The 25-year-old from Wigan said her father, a factory worker at the Heinz factory, “passed away after 42 days on a ventilator, I was never able to say goodbye to him.”
âI had to go to intensive care and watch my father die in front of me,â she said.
âI had to pay for my own living with my inheritance. “
She said she had faced her loss by putting “love and support” in the Justice for Families group “and the memorial wall” which she said was “a peaceful and quiet place”.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of the group, said the Covid memorials are “authentic and encourage people to understand the empathy and support that exists across the country for their grief, and give us a collective symbol for our loss. .
Boris Johnson told us today that the National Covid Memorial is a ‘good candidate to be a permanent national memorial’ and that he ‘supports’ it.
âWhile these platitudes are all great, what matters is that he acts now. There is universal support for the National Covid Memorial Wall to be made permanent, and the government must make it happen.
âAnything less would be extremely disappointing. “
Fran Hall married partner Steve Mead on September 26 last year, but unbeknownst to them he had Covid and sadly passed away a few weeks later on October 18, a day before his 66th birthday.
“It’s always like a bad dream,” said the 60-year-old, adding that she felt a “heavy responsibility” in speaking to Mr Johnson on behalf of thousands of people.
She said the prime minister said he was sorry, but added “but words are easy”.
Lobby Akinnola’s father, Femi Akinnola, 60, passed away on April 26, 2020.
He acknowledged that Mr Johnson had listened to their stories but said “we want to see more action. People are still dying.”
“If it is acceptable to lift the restrictions, it [should be] OK to start the investigation.
Charlie Williams, 53, of Birmingham lost his father Wex Williams, 85, on April 20, 2020, who was in a care home in Coventry.
He said he was “pleasantly surprised that the Prime Minister listened to all of us and made commitments”, but that “even today, we do not think that the Prime Minister fully understands the urgency of this investigation” .
A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Johnson thanked family members he had met “for their powerful and painful accounts of how they lost loved ones to Covid”.
âThe Prime Minister has said he will ensure that the public inquiry gets to the bottom of many of the questions they themselves, and thousands of others like them, have about the pandemic. He said it was essential to learn lessons and understand what happened in detail.
âThe Prime Minister has made a commitment that the chairman of the inquiry will be appointed by Christmas. He said that for now, it was right for officials to continue to focus their efforts on tackling the pandemic before moving on to the investigation in the spring of next year.
âHe welcomed the opportunity to hear from Bereaved Families 4 Justice on the areas they would like the survey to cover and the importance of choosing the right chair and panel members, and reiterated that ‘he takes full responsibility for the government’s management of the pandemic.
âThe Prime Minister welcomed the suggestion that the inquiry should hold hearings in different parts of the country. “