Zainab Garba-sani – NHS Muslim Network Co-Chair

When I reflect upon the past year, I’m often taken aback remembering how much has happened. Time has felt like a surreal concept, with days merging into weeks, weeks into months and before you know – just like that a whole year passes by. At the speed and intensity of everything that has happened, many of us have had little time to pause and reflect. Therefore, the amount of overwhelming emotion I felt on Saturday is unsurprising. It was such an honour to attend the NHS Staff Memorial Service and stop, reflect and remember all our incredible NHS People who have sadly passed away during the pandemic. People who rose to the challenges the pandemic brought, not only in their professional lives, but personally too.

As Co-Chair of the NHS Muslim Network, I (alongside my team and our partners) have been heavily involved in conversations around reducing the health inequalities that were only heightened by COVID-19. The communities that we have the pleasure to represent have experienced so much pain and loss in the past year but still continue to go the extra mile in trying to create an environment where no one is left behind and everyone receives the best quality care. Therefore, as I sat listening to the beautiful tributes, poetry, and reflections on Saturday, my mind often went back to them. Feeling so much gratitude and respect for a workforce that truly is the backbone of the NHS and therefore this country.

As Andrew Copson (Chief Executive of Humanists UK) described in his opening: life is like a flower; it flourishes with nourishment and can enable more life but inevitably is not infinite. Our colleagues who sadly passed away during the pandemic continued to show dedication, selflessness and bring about hope and positivity even through the harshest of storms. Although their lives where sadly cut short, their legacies will always be remembered.