Today, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has launched Every Story Matters, an opportunity for everyone across the country to share their experience of the pandemic directly with the Inquiry.
The pandemic affected every single person in the UK and, in many cases, continues to have a lasting impact on lives. Yet every experience is unique.
By sharing the personal impact the pandemic had on you, your life and your loved ones, you can help me and the Inquiry’s legal team to shape my recommendations so that the UK is better prepared in the future.
The scale of the pandemic was unprecedented, but no-one’s story is the same as yours, so please help me understand the full picture by sharing your story. Every single story will matter.
Every Story Matters will support the UK Covid-19 Inquiry’s investigations and help the Chair of the Inquiry make recommendations for the future, by providing evidence about the human impact of the pandemic on the UK population. It provides an opportunity for those affected by the pandemic to share their experiences without the formality of giving evidence or attending a public hearing.
Participating in Every Story Matters, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group have had the opportunity to relay their losses, personal experiences and concerns to the inquiry.
By doing so, it is our hope that these interactions will assist the Chair of the inquiry, gain a wider knowledge of the impact of Covid-19 on Welsh communities, and ultimately influence her final recommendations.
Every story shared will be anonymised and will then contribute to important, themed reports. These reports will be submitted to each relevant investigation as evidence. They will be used to identify trends and common threads across the country, as well as particular experiences, which will contribute to the Inquiry’s investigations and findings. Every Story Matters will remain open throughout the lifetime of the Inquiry and a final report will be submitted into evidence to make sure every story matters.
The Inquiry would like as many people as possible to take part in Every Story Matters, joining nearly 6,000 people who have already shared their stories. The Inquiry is working with over 40 organisations to reach as many people as possible, including Age UK, Marie Curie, Shelter and the Royal College of Midwives, to ensure that the experiences shared are representative of the UK population.
I feel that people with a learning disability should get involved with Every Story Matters, because it’s important that they share their experiences and how the pandemic affected them. Every Story Matters is an opportunity for their voices to be heard, everyone was affected by the pandemic but people with a learning disability were 6 times more likely to die than the general public and their voices were not heard as much as they should have been.
Every Story Matters is a way for those people from communities like ours to be heard by the inquiry and hopefully bring changes so this doesn’t happen again next time. As a person with a learning disability, it was hard for me to see people due to lockdowns and there were more barriers in my way like accessibility of communications.
I hope that as many people with a learning disability take part in Every Story Matters so that our voices are heard by the inquiry. Mencap has been working with the inquiry to make Every Story Matters as accessible as possible and we have found working with the inquiry team enjoyable as they have been good at listening to us and what people with learning disabilities need to take part in Every Story Matters.
The pandemic was a tough time for everyone, but for many older people and their families and friends it was especially challenging, and often profoundly life-changing. We know that some people find looking back to this dark period unbearably stressful, but there are others who want and need an opportunity to explain what happened to them and their loved ones. For them, that opportunity has now arrived in the form of Every Story Matters and we hope they will take it, and that it will help them on their journeys towards coming to terms with their pandemic experiences.
Taking part in this listening exercise will also help the inquiry team, led by Lady Hallett, gain a deeper understanding of what occurred, and why. At Age UK we are passionate supporters of the idea that we must do everything possible to learn the right lessons from the COVID-19 health emergency, so older people are never again left so exposed to such a terrible threat. Everyone who takes part in “Every Story Matters” will be supporting that objective.
The experiences of midwives, maternity support workers, student midwives and midwifery educators will be crucial to gaining a better understanding of how the pandemic impacted on their working lives, and ultimately care for women, babies and families. I encourage as many as possible to respond to the listening exercise, because your stories matter, and sharing what you lived and worked through will help to change things for the better should we ever face a similar situation in the future.
Every Story Matters is an important part of the Covid-19 Inquiry as it is vital to hear from as many people as possible about their personal experiences.
Whether you work in a hospice, know someone who received palliative or end of life care during the pandemic, or have a loved one who died during the pandemic, the inquiry needs to hear your experience and understand the impact it had on you.
The stories shared and lessons learnt can not only help us prepare for any new pandemic in the future, but also to build a health and care service that gives every person in the country what they need from their first moments of life until their last. As a society, we under-invest both materially and emotionally in care at the very end of people’s life. We can and must do better.
At Kidney Care UK we encourage everyone with kidney disease, as well as their family members, to ensure they take part in the Inquiry by sharing their experiences as part of Every Story Matters. The pandemic continues to impact the lives of people living with kidney disease and many of the people we support have told us that they felt like they were not being seen or listened to at times over the last three years.
This opportunity means that all of the voices in the kidney community can be heard and that lessons can be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, so that we are better prepared for any global disease outbreaks in future.
There are a number of ways people can share their experiences with the Inquiry. The main way is via the Inquiry’s Every Story Matters online form on its website. For those who cannot use the online form to share their story there will be a range of alternatives made available – including paper versions and later this year a telephone number people can call. Members of the Inquiry team will also be travelling across the UK so that individuals can share their experiences in person at community events.