Instagram project sharing stories of frontline workers hailed as ‘therapeutic’

A junior doctor helping to run an Instagram page documenting the lives of frontline workers has said the platform is “therapeutic”.

The page, entitled Humans of Covid-19, shares photos and stories from behind the scenes of the Covid-19 battle in a bid to “tug on heartstrings” of viewers and encourage them to follow coronavirus restrictions.

The junior doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency that the page is aiming to be people’s “eyes” into hospitals during the pandemic.

“We are those eyes, we are telling people how tough it is,” they told PA. “I don’t think any of us could have imagined it being worse than the first wave, but it is.”

The page, inspired by a similar online project called Humans of New York, has detailed a couple working on a ward side by side, a nurse with no support bubble, and a woman whose mother died of coronavirus on the same ward where she was treated for the illness.

The Humans of Covid-19 account was started in April by junior doctor Benjamin Rosen, with a team of five from across the country now helping to conduct interviews and run the page.

The project has interviewed more than 180 doctors, nurses, porters, bus drivers and more frontline workers.

“The project is aiming to raise awareness of what it’s like to be on the front line at the moment. The idea is to raise awareness of how tough it is in order to encourage people to socially distance,” the anonymous junior doctor told PA.

“We felt that the most effective way of driving change was by tugging on heartstrings. It’s all well and good hearing statistics but what drives us to be motivated is by hearing these stories.”

The junior doctor explained that while their hospital is not currently in a life-or-death struggle for resources, “we’re at a point where we’re preparing”.

“As we look at hospitals around us, what we’re noticing is a lot of the PPE is not quite up to standard. We can see the pace at which these things are being made and distributed.

“It’s worrying knowing the volume of resources that we’re going to need… we’re preparing for the fact that our healthcare system is not going to be enough.

“We are starting to really feel the effect of another wave, it’s constant.”

They explained that during the first wave of Covid-19, “it was new and we were fresh-faced and ready for the challenge… now we’re tired and anxious. It’s a daunting position to be in”.

The junior doctor said that the page has been “therapeutic” for both them and the people they have interviewed.

“People really need a space to show their emotion, maybe they’re not getting that elsewhere,” they told PA.

“Everybody has a story to tell about Covid, even people who don’t know what they want to talk about… after we talk for about 15 minutes, they’ll start pouring out really emotional stories.

“It’s really tough on the front line, this is affecting our healthcare workers, our teachers, our bus drivers

“I love the fact that I’m not alone in this, it’s extra time in my day (to run the page), but it’s therapeutic to hear that people share the same struggles that I’m having.”

On Wednesday, PA news agency analysis of official data reported that more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus have occurred in the UK.