The Year That Was | Free Word

For over ten weeks in 2020, the UK congregated at 8pm every Thursday to clap for our key workers. But with nurses forced to work without personal protective equipment, gig economy workers facing eviction and supermarket staff made to work around the clock, our clapping ritual – once a defiant symbol of collective admiration and gratitude – soon came under question.

The Year That Was foregrounds frontline workers as they reflect on their experience, examine who the most valuable workers really are in our society and offer insight into how we can actively support them throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

With thanks to our contributors Alia Butt, Greg Howard and ‘Penny’ who wishes to remain anonymous.


Animation by Bethan Hoare.

Sound Design by Adam Matschulat.


Links to organisations supporting key workers:

IWGB Union:

IWGB Union Courier’s Branch:

IWGB Clapped and Scrapped Campaign:…

Pledge to support IWGB in 2021:

Keep Our NHS Public:

NHS Staff Voices:…

KONP Volunteer:

KONP Join:…

Trade Union Congress:

Trade Union Congress Union Finder:

Free Word’s Twitter thread: