People around the UK are being urged to celebrate and commemorate health, care and other essential workers this weekend to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS, says UNISON.

It will culminate in what is hoped to be the biggest ever clap for carers on Sunday (5 July) as the country shows its appreciation for the health service and those who have been keeping people safe throughout the pandemic.

UNISON has become a partner in the /Together coalition, which has the goal of healing divisions in society and reuniting communities over the course of the next decade. It is backed by NHS bodies, businesses, civil society organisations and celebrities.

On the evening of July 4, the group set to call on everyone to commemorate coronavirus victims, whether key workers or members of the public, by putting a light or a LED candle in their window to show support.

Then at 5pm on Sunday, the anniversary of the NHS’ creation, people across the UK are encouraged to join the biggest ever ‘clap for carers’ to thank all key workers, as well as safely raise a cup of tea – or a drink of their choice – with their neighbours.

UNISON also hopes that everyone will act responsibly as the birthday celebrations coincide with the reopening of pubs in many parts of the UK.

UNISON regional secretary Ravi Subramanian said: “As a society we’re living through troubled times, and sadly we’re not out of the woods yet. Communities and families have been devastated by the virus, which has taken too many lives, kept loved ones apart and made people fear for the future.

“But we can come together, as demonstrated by the weekly claps from our doorsteps and balconies showing our appreciation for those who’ve been keeping us safe.“This is an opportunity to give thanks and thoughts for all those who’ve lost their lives, as well as recognising the wonders of the health service, social care sector and other essential public services.“As the lockdown eases, we must all remain careful. No one wants to spoil anyone's fun as pubs reopen but behaving sensibly is vital, if the NHS is to be protected and the virus is to be kept at bay.

“Overwhelming our emergency services is the last thing that's needed when this weekend is all about celebrating and showing appreciation for our wonderful NHS.”