Thirty-three blossom trees have been planted in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a memorial to London’s Covid-19 victims.
The Mayor of London has worked alongside the National Trust to build the garden which intended to be a lasting memorial open to the public as a place to reflect and remember the lives lost to COVID-19 and pay tribute to London’s key workers who put their lives at risk to fight the virus.
The 33 trees represent all London Boroughs, this garden is the first installation in the National Trusts series of blossom plantings across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Local communities helped design the garden which is arranged as three close circles with eight different species of trees to create a colourful landscape in the parklands.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “This new public garden is a lasting living memorial in recognition of the impact that COVID has had, and continues to have, on our city. It is a place to join together to remember the more than 19,000 Londoners who have tragically died, to reflect on our own experiences of the pandemic, to highlight how this virus has disproportionately impacted many of our communities, and to pay tribute to the ongoing efforts of our key workers.
“It continues to be an incredibly difficult time for Londoners as we battle the virus, and I want all those who have experienced loss to know that there is support available to them. Nothing will make losing someone you love any easier, but we want Londoners to know they are not alone. We are here for you, as a city.”
The Mayor also announced the start of a new bereavement support program which offers help to those grieving from loss to COVID-19 in London.
The programme is set to develop support for Londoners. The Recovery Bereavement Programmes first stage is to be led by Thrive LDN who will be directing Londoners to information, advice and support to help cope with grief.
Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, mental health equalities advisor for NHS England and co-lead of Thrive LDN, said: “Covid has devastatingly taken parent from child, sister from brother, husband from wife, grandparent from grandchild. Lockdown restrictions have made bereavement much harder, and research has shown the experience of Covid grief to be worse than other types of grief. As a result, we can expect many more people to require extra support.
“The launch of citywide programme to support and strengthen London’s bereavement sector is crucial. We must work towards bereaved people having access to support that meets their particular needs, when they need it.”