Weekly podcasts are set to explore the humanity of hospital staff
From early 2020, the world has been gripped by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 virus. From the first recorded case on February 28 to the first peak over Easter, the UK has been reeling from the collective isolation of lockdown and the personal loss to more than 40,000 bereaved families. Face coverings, especially PPE, has become a symbol of the crisis. But what of the people behind the masks?
Unmasked is a unique project; an artistic response, focusing on key members of staff in one of London's largest NHS Trusts, St George's Hospital.
A weekly six-part podcast will explore the heartfelt humanity of the staff who have experienced the highs, lows and losses of the pandemic and stands as a record of the time.
From porters, to intensivists, to cleaners to security, this project will hear what it has been like to work on the frontline and the effect this has had on them personally.
There have been highs and unimaginable lows. Staff have also witnessed the devastating effect this has had on the families of loved ones they have cared for – and as well as staff, the podcast also features one relative talking about their experience.
Every Thursday, the UK clapped for its carers; NHS workers, key workers, care home carers, supermarket workers and those providing essential services. Those working in the NHS and going into clinical areas to treat patients, knew that their risk of contracting the illness was higher – with Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority staff disproportionately affected - but everyone still went to work.
Dr Serena Haywood, both a medical doctor at St George's and playwright, has carried out each interview.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, she was redeployed to the Trust's Medical Examiners' office to support doctors with death certification, and to talk with the bereaved. She was struck by the interconnectedness of the professionals who came to the office, who would have a cup of coffee and tell their stories, often after a difficult nightshift.
The interviewees often know her and can give the insider insight in a revealing way whilst feeling safe. Their stories are dramatised by Serena and writer Joseph Lidster (BBC Torchwood, Dr Who for Big Finish and BBC Sherlock online) and brought to life through the voices of actors.
To create the podcasts, the team are donating their time for free as will the 18 actors. In addition, this project will support not only the St George's Hospital Charity, but actors furloughed through the lockdown with a JustGiving to the Actors' Benevolent Fund.
Full casting has yet to be announced, so watch this space for more information!
June 22, 2020