Over the last week I have started to notice a slight feeling of distaste growing inside me each time I see another pop concert being offered to NHS workers. Offers of adoration and praise have been coming in thick and fast as these frontline workers are being compared to the soldiers going over the battlefields in the war, putting their lives at risk for us. How this is enabling us to come together as a nation, to feel patriotic and clap on the streets and bang our saucepans and wave to our neighbors whom we have been ignoring up until now. We are even all looking forward to our post Pandemic street parties.
I salute and applause all the doctors, nurses and key workers who are all putting their lives at risk performing their jobs, so why am I feeling this way?
This morning, after a session with a client, I made the connection. I am noticing a similar pattern with that of abuse.
The NHS has been struggling and on its last legs for years. Staff have been working ridiculously long work shifts, with very little support for their own mental health and partly because they are told they are heroes and angels, they keep going. These people are wonderful and without their dedication, endurance and huge hearts, many more of us would be unwell and die. Before any of this started.
So, we tell them how “special” they are. What an amazing wonderful job they are doing. What incredible people they are. We lavish praise on them at this time like never before. This is a known tactic of grooming and exploitation. Abusers tell their victims how special they are, how much they love them and this boost to their self -esteem often prevents victims speaking out about their abuse and challenging it. It silences them.
What would happen if all these people put their energy into petitioning the government to get the staff proper equipment and support, rather than delivering them gifts of smoothies or painting rainbows on their faces? How about we vote for a government that supports the NHS. It’s the changes to their working conditions that are fundamentally needed, as opposed to offers of love and saucepan banging.
The solidarity on the streets at 8pm on Thursday and the coming together as a community is a wonderful thing, but let’s not fool ourselves that we are doing it solely altruistically for the NHS.