Originally a poem by content director Darren Smith, “You Clap for Me Now” was turned into a video by his colleague Sachini Imbuldeniya.
The work underlines the fact that, while the UK has become increasingly intolerant toward minorities and immigrants in recent years, many people from these backgrounds are now being feted as heroes for their work during the outbreak, Smith told CNN.
For example, nearly half of medical staff employed by the National Health Service come from minority backgrounds, and nearly a third of doctors are immigrants, according to official UK statistics.
They included ear, nose and throat consultant Dr. Amged el-Hawrani, health care assistant Thomas Harvey and Dr. Alfa Sa’adu, who died from coronavirus-related complications.
Smith said that while immigrants to the UK were welcomed in the 1960s, they had recently been treated “as if they were unwanted, unliked and not tolerated.”
Smith hailed the outpouring of solidarity and appreciation, such as the 8 p.m. clap in honor of key workers that takes place across the UK every Thursday, and wrote the poem to call for this change in attitude to continue after the outbreak is finished.
“There’s been a real reframing of the way that we think of what makes an essential key worker now,” he said, listing supermarket shelf-stackers, delivery drivers, paramedics, nurses and carers.
“These people are suddenly much more, and rightly, valued,” he said.
The video, which quickly went viral after it was published Tuesday, features a number of people from these occupations each reading a line from the poem.
Imbuldeniya, who works with Smith at creative content agency Bridge Studio, came up with the idea of the video after receiving an open brief from the United Nations for content that would spread a message of solidarity and kindness in the face of the pandemic.
She contacted actor and comedian Tez Ilyas, who reads a line in the video, and credits him with helping it go viral.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 4.6 million times.
“The overall feedback has been generally really positive, which is fantastic,” she told CNN.
She said, however, that it had also received a lot of negative or racist comments on social media.
“I think it’s really important that we do spread this message to try and change those opinions as much as we possibly can, and that is the point of the video,” Imbuldeniya said.
They hope the change in attitude that has happened during the pandemic will last.