As the UK prepares to emerge from Covid restrictions, Variety has announced a partnership with 23 March In Our Hearts, a campaign to commemorate the first day of the national lockdown in 2020, when the country was devastated by the sudden imposition of restrictions, but at the same time discovered a resurgent community spirit.
The campaign’s rallying cry is for all of us to keep passing on the acts of kindness that flourished so noticeably during the past year, to ensure that the community spirit forged by the trials of the coronavirus crisis continues into the future.
Variety’s celebrity supporters, including Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, Nick Knowles, Eamonn Holmes, Heather Small and Lorraine Kelly are showing their heartfelt support for the campaign by posting social media photos and videos of themselves encouraging continued acts of community kindness. At the same time, they are calling for donations to support Variety’s work with disabled and disadvantaged children, who have been among those most affected by the pandemic.
Members of the public will also be encouraged to share social media photos and videos encouraging the continued spread of community kindness, using their hands to form a heart shape symbol (the Variety logo) as a visual shorthand for the campaign, as well as the hashtag #MarchHeart. Photos and videos can also be uploaded to the campaign website, which will form the communications hub of the campaign.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate social, emotional and academic impact on all children and young people. However, for the one million disabled children in the UK, as well as the four million children living in poverty, the blow has been particularly severe.
The families of the disabled and disadvanteged children Variety supports have described facing a range of challenges brought about the pandemic. These include a reduction in their usual support services and therapies, changes in routine, being isolated at home, and the difficulties of home schooling, which can be particularly tough for children with special educational needs. The #leftinlockdown survey by the Disabled Children’s Partnership, of which Variety is a member, shines a spotlight on these issues.
Job losses or reduced employment as a result of the pandemic have also taken their toll, especially given that the outgoings of families with a disabled child are, on average, £600 a month higher than those of families with non-disabled children.
Former Cabinet Minister Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, a Variety Ambassador, said: “It’s absolutely essential that we mark this first anniversary with a national day of reflection. To remember those who have lost so much, have done so much and also to look forward to a brighter future with our freedoms restored.”
Please note that March 23 campaign is operating within the Government guidelines regarding the current lockdown. As such, people still need to stay at home, and we are asking for support in the form of sharing March Heart social media selfies and videos, helping others and supporting Variety's work with vulnerable children.
Television presenter, Dr Zoe Williams, shows her support for the movement by making a March Heart. She appears as the resident doctor on This Morning, ITV's weekday morning programme.