It’s been a year since hundreds of red hearts first appeared on a wall on Southbank. Now, some hearts are decorated with names, dates, and messages like ‘I miss you’, while bouquets of flowers and letters of grief addressed to deceased loved ones are placed down below.
Each painted heart on the National Covid Memorial Wall represents one person who died in the UK with Covid-19 on their death certificate. When the wall was established in March 2021 by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group, more than 150,00 hearts were painted within ten days. Since then, more and more hearts have appeared each week, representing the growing death toll of Covid-19.
The wall, now around 500 metres long and considered by many to be a symbol of the pandemic, has been looked after by a group of bereaved volunteers. However, with no official permanent status, the memorial is at risk of erasure.
That’s why there’s now a growing movement to make the public mural a lasting fixture, so people can reflect on and remember the suffering caused by the pandemic in years to come.
A petition, signed by more than 106,500 people and counting, is calling on the UK government to make the wall permanent. The petition states:
‘We are calling on the government to support us in our efforts to have the wall made a permanent memorial, a place of reflection and contemplation and remembrance that will stand as a reminder of the horror and grief so many have endured.’
The organisers of the petition are also encouraging supporters to donate to their Crowdfunder to raise money for the maintenance of the wall.
In June last year, government MPs and Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn called on Boris Johnson to make the wall a national landmark.