Lambeth Labour councillors have backed the campaign by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice to make the National Covid Memorial Wall permanent. The Memorial Wall, created on the bank of the Thames in the north of the borough is made up of 150,000 hearts each representing someone in the UK who has lost their life to Covid-19.
At Wednesday’s Full Council meeting, Lambeth Labour will call on councillors from all parties to support the calls for the memorial to be made permanent and for the planned independent public inquiry into Covid to happen sooner than the timetable planned by the UK government.
Since the wall was first begun in March 2021, with hundreds of people who had lost loved ones contributing by drawing individual hearts, Lambeth council has worked closely with the organisers, Guys’ and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, Transport for London, and local stakeholders to find a way to make sure the memorial can remain in place. Members of Parliament have also worked to campaign for the wall to be made permanent, with a letter organised by Afzal Khan MP and signed by Florence Eshalomi MP, Helen Hayes MP, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP.
Cllr Claire Holland, Leader of Lambeth council said:
“Lambeth Labour welcomes the creation of the memorial as a fitting and moving tribute to all those who have been lost to the pandemic, particularly in such a visible location in Waterloo and next to St Thomas’ Hospital where so many have worked tirelessly for the last 18 months to protect us all from the pandemic. We are pleased to work with the organisers and local partners on making this a permanent memorial, and we restate our firm support for their campaign here today.
“This comes at a time when restrictions are lifting, but cases are also rising. We have seen time and again the impact of the failure to properly control this virus by the government – and the actions of these families and the hearts on the wall are a tragic reminder of that. We must never be complacent about Covid-19, and we must always remember the terrible cost of this virus.”
Matt Fowler, Co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice and who placed the first heart on the wall said:
“They say grief is love with nowhere to go. The wall is where it goes.
“Lambeth Council have been hugely supportive of the memorial, recognising it as a place of remembrance, reflection and healing for hundreds of thousands across the country.
“We are delighted that the council is committed to helping ensure it remains a permanent site for us to remember our loved ones”