Apart from encouraging the public to leave messages of encouragement, the team behind @Sghealthcareheroes is also working behind the scenes to get more things done.
When news of a COVID-19 cluster emerging at Tan Tong Seng Hospital (TTSH) broke in late April, Nur Fatehah Salim had her concerns.
Beyond being worried that the outbreak might affect Singapore, at a time when things were slowly getting better, she was perturbed by reports of TTSH staff being shunned in public places.
“These workers put their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, on the line. Yet when they get infected, people turn their backs on these workers instead of supporting them,” said the 27-year-old, who was concerned over the mental and physical welfare of workers in the healthcare industry.
Knowing that there were negative stereotypes on healthcare workers last year because of COVID-19, and wanting to do something to change the narrative this time round, Fatehah came up with the idea of creating an Instagram account to recognise the sacrifices they have made.
She put out a call for support on her own Instagram account and 13 others stepped forward, something Fatehah describes as “amazing”. Together, they created the account @Sghealthcareheroes, providing a safe space for Singaporeans to honour the healthcare workers for their hard work.
It took just three days for everything to be put together, with the @sghealthcareheroes account created on May 5.
“It was a fast game because we were grounded in purpose and knew we had to move fast. That made us super focused and efficient,” Fatehah said.
The 14, who are all youths, are organised into four different teams – publicity, organisational outreach, sponsorship outreach and hospital outreach.
The publicity team, consisting of 26-year-old Khaliesah Nahrawi, 25-year-old Zann Ling, 22-year-old Nurul Nabilah Salim, and 28-year-olds Woon Siew Yan and Vanessa Koh manages the public-facing Instagram account.
The organisation outreach team, consisting of 25-year-old Nazira Rasol, 27-year-old J Shamita Naikar and 18-year-old Joyce Leen – the youngest of the 14 – reaches out to different organisations to help share the campaign.
The sponsorship outreach team, consisting of 27-year-old Eugenia Oei and 28-year-old Nurul Iman, reaches out to different organisations to join @sghealthcareheroes in sharing the campaign so as to create more awareness.
Lastly, the hospital outreach team, consisting of 24-year-old Nur Amirah Kamarudin and 30-year-old Nicholas Lee, links up the team with hospitals.
Apart from encouraging the healthcare workers, the team is also hoping they can help change the mindset towards healthcare workers, and crucially, towards foreign nurses.
“We’ve received a few messages from foreign nurses sharing with us how they yearn to return home and reunite with their families, and how they feel alone here. There were also local nurses who voiced their concern for their colleagues who are foreigners,” said the organisation outreach team.
“In referring to ‘healthcare workers’, we have to keep in mind that foreign nurses are just as big a part of the industry as the local healthcare workers are. They should be shown just as much compassion, kindness and love.”
The team added that it was paramount for the public to be kinder and more supportive towards healthcare workers, who have been making sacrifices and going through plenty of struggles.
“We hope that people would stop treating them as though they are carriers of the virus, as they have been working tirelessly since the outbreak,” the team said, adding that they are also hoping that businesses and the community can come together as one to support the healthcare workers too.
So far, the team is heartened by the responses they have gotten. This includes one from a healthcare worker encouraging her “fellow comrades”, which left a lasting impression on them.
Receiving so much support has fueled the @sghealthcareheroes team to do more, as they realised the impact it has.
“The real-life stories shared by healthcare workers were appalling – the abuse and discrimination they experience on a daily basis from the public literally shocked us. These are the things we probably wouldn’t have known about without the platform that we have now,” said the publicity team.
“This makes the initiative even more relevant now because if mindset shifts don’t happen today, it will be reinforced in future.”
The team is hoping to partner with organisations and companies to offer sponsorships or discounts for food, groceries and self-care support to the healthcare worker community, to cheer them up and lift their spirits.
But they also hope that the initiative can become a call to action for the society to “do what they can within their means to be a more inclusive and passionate society”.
“Our intention is to get the momentum going – to kickstart a movement of kindness in our community. We believe that everyone has the capability to do good and to make a difference. All it takes is one step to turn your intentions into action,” the publicity team said.
“We hope that our messages are just the start of building a compassionate community that cares and looks out for one another.”
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