I read an article a while back in which the author described how she’d explained the UK’s ‘999’ emergency phone number to someone she was interviewing in (if I remember correctly) central Africa. The interviewee couldn’t believe that we have a number we can call and help gets dispatched to us, for free, straight away. It’s something we take for granted. But I think it’s time we gave a little back.
I stumbled this morning across something called the ‘Awesome Movement’. Fed up with reading newspaper articles about how members of our emergency services are being abused and assaulted as they go about their work, the organisers decided to do something to show their appreciation for the dedication of those who seek to serve others.
These are, remember, the people who’ll risk their lives to drag you from a burning building, to extricate you from the twisted wreckage of your car, to protect you from those who would do you harm, and to reach out for your hand as the sea seeks to swallow you up.
They are our police, our ambulance crews and our firefighters. They are the staff of our NHS. They are the Coastguard and the RNLI. They are Mountain Rescue, Lowland Rescue and our search dog teams. They walk among us, but they stand apart. And many of them are volunteers.
The Awesome Movement started out by leaving ‘thank you’ notes on the windscreens of parked ambulances and police cars, thanking the occupants for their work and leaving a £10 note for them to buy themselves some coffee and a doughnut. They then partnered with a leading coffee shop chain to leave gift vouchers for those working on Christmas day.
They want, though, to go further. They want organisers of large events to publicly acknowledge the work of the emergency services. They want cafes and coffee shops to offer free drinks for those on duty. And, perhaps most importantly, they want all of us to show our gratitude. Simply by leaving a kind note, buying someone a coffee or just taking the time to thank them for what they do.
These things are all so simple. They are tiny gestures, yet – as the Awesome Movement has discovered – they can mean so much to those on the receiving end. And they make a pleasant change, I’d imagine, from a tirade of abuse or a punch in the face.
So I shall, from now on, most definitely be thanking every member of the emergency services I come across. I’ll ask every coffee shop I go into (which is quite a lot, if I’m being honest) if they offer discounts to on-duty emergency services personnel (and, if not, why not). And I’ll be delivering some festive snacks to my local police, fire and ambulance stations. (This sounds like a rather American thing to do, but what the hell. This is one area where they do things a lot better than us.)
And I would encourage you to do the same.
Members of the emergency services do a fantastic job, often for little or no reward. The very least we can give them in return is our gratitude.
Find out more about the Awesome Movement on their website.