Today, Chi Onwurah has joined 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors to write to the Prime Minister urging him to support the campaign for the Covid Memorial Wall in London to become a permanent site. The letter is spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, who lost his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus and has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall.
The Covid Memorial Wall in London
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. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of what has happened, 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.”
Letter to the Prime Minister
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. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Florence Eshalomi MP, in whose constituency the wall resides, are also signatories.
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central said: “Many of my constituent in Newcastle Central, like thousands across the country, have suffered immense loss during this past year. Often, families haven’t been able to come together in the way they would have wanted, to share their grief, their love, their loss. My thoughts are with all those grieving loved ones and with our healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to save so many lives. I am proud to support this campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall and will continue to work with bereaved families to ensure their voices and wishes are heard and that the government are held to account for their failings.”
The letter was also signed by a number of North East MPs including Alex Cunningham, Julie Elliot, Mary Foy, Sharon Hodgson, Emma Lewell-Buck, Ian Mearns, Grahame Morris and Kate Osborne. It was also signed by Jamie Driscoll, North Tyne Mayor and Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside Mayor.
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.”
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.”
Signatories to the letter about the Covid Memorial Wall
Here is a breakdown of the signatories of the letter.
- 2 Conservative MPs, 3 Conservative Peers, and 1 Conservative Mayor.
- 145 Labour MPs, 26 Labour Peers, and 12 Labour Mayors
- 7 Liberal Democrat MPs and 6 Liberal Democrat Peers.
- 1 Green MP and 2 Green Peers.
- 7 SNP, 2 Plaid Cymru, 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, and 1 Alba MP
- 1 Independent Mayor
- 5 Crossbench Peers and 3 Non-Affiliated Peers.