The weekly ritual from lockdowns gone by of clapping for carers returned this evening, under the new name of Clap for Heroes.
It first started during the initial lockdown – and ran for ten weeks – after founder Annemarie Plas came up with the idea to show gratitude and respect for NHS workers battling against Covid-19 on the frontline.
Although Ms Plas only had humble ambitions for a tradition to be shared among friends, it quickly became a national tradition every Thursday at 8pm during the first lockdown.
Nicola Sturgeon leads nation in “Clap For Our Carers” tribute to NHS workers
Now, it’s back under a different name, with the new mission of acknowledging all those who are “pushing through this difficult time”, including carers, teachers, homeschooling parents, people shielding and more.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, along with Boris Johnson and the Royal Family were staunch observers of the ten-week tradition during the first lockdown.
However, the event was soon criticised for becoming politicised.
“Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised,” Ms Plas said ahead of the final clap in May.
She added: “I think the narrative is starting to change and I don’t want the clap to be negative.”
It’s time to stop clapping, says organiser of “Clap For Carers” NHS tribute
And unfortunately, before the revival of the well-intended tradition even got under way, Ms Plas announced she had opted to distance herself from the planned applause – after being on the receiving end of abuse online.
In a statement, released on the Clap for Heroes Twitter page, she said: “Since announcing the return of the applause yesterday, I have been targeted with personal abuse and threats against myself and my family by a hateful few on social media channels.
#clapforheroes #clapforourcarers pic.twitter.com/A8T9vEyQ4R
— Clap For Heroes (@Clapforheroesuk) January 7, 2021
“Irrespective of their views and reasons for believing this is an acceptable way to behave, I did not set out to make a political statement and will not put my loved ones at risk.
“I have no political agenda, I am not employed by the Government, I do not work in PR, I am just an average mum at home trying to cope with the lockdown situation.”
The return of the weekly ritual has been met with a mixed response online, with some NHS workers asking people not to clap, and just stay at home.
The statement continued: “The idea of bringing back the applause was only to bring some optimism and positivity to the country, not to make a political comment about the state of the nation.
“It has never been the intention of either myself or Clap For Our Carers/Clap For Heroes to lobby government or suggest that clapping is a substitute for anything else.
“If people want to make a statement about the world we live in or have a desire to instigate change in our systems, there are ways to do it.
“I would be delighted if other people talking about the applause opens up dialogue and debate, and gives them a voice and impetus to discuss and engage in positive conversations and actions around wider, related subjects.”
She said she acknowledged the frustrations and anger felt by some but vilifying her personally was “destructive and counter-intuitive”.
“It absolutely can and should still happen at 8pm tonight if you choose and want to clap for your heroes on an individual and personal basis — it’s up to each person to decide how relevant or worthwhile they feel it is to participate,” she said.
On social media, unlike the flurry of videos flooding Twitter feeds as neighbours greeted neighbours on their doorsteps, people around the UK reported “silence” at 8pm tonight.
One user asked, “how can society #clapforheroes when so many are the reason they are exhausted and over run?”
Another added: “Claps don’t buy food or pay the bills… they deserve much more than token applause.”
Hi @JeaneF1MSP @JohnSwinney @ClydesdAileen . Instead of clapping for our key workers how about a commitment to 1. A proper pay rise. 2. Investment to address the thousands of public sector jobs lost. 3. A National Care Service for Scotland? #clapforheroes
— Unite4abetterfuture (@WorkersOrganise) January 7, 2021
Not a single clap here either! I think people have found some sense this time around. Pay them in wages, not claps! #clapforheroes
— Shuj (@S11UJ) January 7, 2021
Silence says more than #clapforheroes …nothing in our street or beyond – claps don’t buy food or pay the bills…they deserve much more than token applause…stay home for heroes, stay safe💙
— 𝐿𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑅𝑜𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑠𝑜𝑛💙 (@linzirob) January 7, 2021
I’m sorry how can society #clapforheroes when so many are the reason they are exhausted and over run? Insulting much? Why not respect the, by STAYING HOME. #COVID19
— Beckiee Foreman ❄️ (@BeckieeBabeex) January 7, 2021