Europe Day 2020: St Albans residents urged to show appreciation for migrant keyworkers helping the UK fight coronavirus

Celebrations for Europe Day in previous years included a picnic organised by St Albans for Europe.

Celebrations for Europe Day in previous years included a picnic organised by St Albans for Europe. - Credit: Archant

A campaign group is urging residents to demonstrate their love for the Continent this Saturday in celebration of Europe Day, an annual appreciation of peace and unity.

Local grassroots, cross-party campaign group St Albans for Europe is also asking people to show their appreciation for all migrants, including many from the EU, who are playing such a crucial role in helping the UK meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

The group will share individuals’ activities on social media on the day itself to highlight the vital contributions that migrants are making to the nation’s fight against the virus.

Fiona McAndrew, chair of St Albans for Europe, said; “Many of the UK’s keyworkers in the National Health Service, care homes, food supply chain and online delivery networks are from overseas. 65,000 NHS staff in England are EU nationals, accounting for 5.5 per cent of all staff and, overall, 13.1 per cent of NHS staff say that their nationality is not British.

“Our food supply chain is also heavily reliant on overseas workers, and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 mean that farmers have had to put out an urgent call for help to replace these workers. “

She said Europe Day is the perfect day to thank these valuable keyworkers, and more this year than in any year.

“As the whole world faces the COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever to show our immense appreciation for those from other countries, and particularly the EU, who help staff our NHS, look after our elderly relatives and help keep the nation fed.

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“Healthcare workers and those in the food supply chain are taking the strain by looking after us all under incredibly difficult circumstances.

“We left the EU at the end of January 2020 but the COVID-19 crisis shows what an important role staff from the EU and beyond play in keeping our country running. It has been widely reported that anti-immigrant sentiment was one of the factors which led to the vote to leave the EU and Brexit made many migrants feel very unwelcome. We hope the current crisis will bring a fresh perspective.”

Helen Campbell, secretary of St Albans for Europe, added: “Europe Day symbolises the links, collaborations and friendships that forever bind the UK to European nations on the other side of the Channel, despite Brexit. St Albans for Europe is encouraging Europhiles to show their support for all EU migrants and their appreciation for all things European.”

The group has come up with some suggestions to help celebrate Europe Day;

* Proudly wear your EU or St Albans for Europe T-shirt for your daily exercise.

* Cook a European meal to enjoy in lockdown, or have a European-themed picnic in your garden.

* Make a short video thanking an EU migrant for keeping our NHS afloat. Or for caring for your elderly relative. Or flying in to pick our nation’s summer strawberries.

* Challenge your locked down friends/family in other households to a Europe-themed face-painting or fancy dress competition.

* Share your favourite European recipe.

* Learn and share three phrases of a European language new to you.

The group asks participants to share their activities on Facebook and Twitter, tagging @StAlbans4Europe and with hashtag #EuropeDay, by noon on Saturday 9 May; the group will edit together as many as possible and share a montage.