The London Ambulance Service has sent letters to more than 1,000 children of medics and call handlers, thanking them for “sharing” their parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many staff have made the difficult decision to live apart from their families so they can continue to work on the front lines of the health crisis and, at its peak, the LAS was getting as many as 11,000 calls a day.
Charlene Letts, emergency ambulance crew and mother-of-three, suggested the service send a message to families during a time when staff are working long hours.
I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for LondonersLAS chief operating officer Khadir Meer
The letters have been personalised for every child.
Ms Letts said: “The letters are reassuring and made our children feel so special, it said they were heroes and thanked them personally for everything they are doing to help mummy and daddy.
“This made them feel a part of the service and that they were helping. It has given me great pleasure that something positive can come out of what has been and continues to be challenging times.”
Paramedic Sarah Ablewhite made the difficult decision to live apart from her 14-year-old son at the beginning of lockdown in March.
She said: “My son Jack takes a lot of medication, also his dad has some respiratory issues, so I wanted to protect them. But it has been the hardest thing.
“We Facetime a lot but it gets very emotional. We both go through all the emotions — he has been scared about me working but also frustrated and angry he can’t see me.
“Getting the letter just made him so proud and lifted his spirits.”
Ambulance crew Mark Reeve has been living in a hotel since the outbreak of the pandemic, to protect his asthmatic six-year-old son.
Mark said: “It has been very hard to be away from him, particularly missing his sixth birthday, but I felt it was more than just my job to be on the front line.
“It was something I had to do, the London Ambulance Service is also my family.
“I don’t know when I will be reunited with Christopher but it meant so much for him to get a letter.
“He’s no longer worried, he thinks of me as a superhero, saving lives.”
Letters have been sent to any child who has struggled while a loved one has been working, including grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Lorraine Quinlan, who works in one of the service’s 999 control-rooms, said: “My son has been so scared and has cried every time I’ve left home to go on shift. Getting this letter has been a massive boost to him — and my daughter.”
Chief operating officer of the LAS Khadir Meer said: “I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for Londoners.
“My own son received a letter from the chief executive — I know only too well the power of this kind of letter written personally to your child in helping them understand the role their parents have played in tackling this crisis.”