NHS staff across north Cumbria took a moment yesterday to pause and reflect on the impact that Covid-19 has had.

Staff across the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation (NCIC) Trust were encouraged to take some time yesterday for quiet reflection on the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on the county and the wider world.

The focus on reflection yesterday formed part of the trust’s Festival of Thanks that it is holding this week.

The three day virtual festival has been designed to pay tribute to the hard work, the commitment of and the challenges overcome by all of the NCIC trust’s staff members.

Yesterday, the first day of the festival, focused on paying tribute to all those who had been affected by Covid-19, in particular to the two Cumberland Infirmary nurses who died due to Covid-19, in April and in May.

Elaine Crooks, a nurse and head of patient experience at the NCIC trust, said that the impact of Covid-19 has been “significant” over the past six months, for both staff and for the wider community.

“It’s really important to take some time out of the busy working day to reflect the impact that this has had, not only on us as individuals but on the wider communities," she said.

“We sadly lost two colleagues throughout this period.

“Today is very much about remembering our colleagues through the unveiling of two memorial benches in their dedication.

“We are holding a two minute silence at 11am to give staff time to just take a moment’s pause and personal reflection.”

The trust also yesterday opened two memorial books, to be housed in the trust’s hospital chapels, which are set to be filled with comments, thoughts, words of comfort and reflections from staff members.

“There will be a blessing of those books later in the year,” Elaine added.

A socially-distanced candlelit vigil also took place yesterday evening, with staff and members of the public invited to place candles in their windows as a touching tribute to all those affected by Covid-19.

The vigil was accompanied by a striking laser projection onto the Cumberland Infirmary's main building.

Elaine explained that the vigil was "a symbol of reflection, and an opportunity to take time out to recognise the impact of these last few months.

"We’re recognising that through the remembrance of our colleagues, and also by reflecting on the impact on the wider community."

The festival continues today with the presentation of a number of awards for staff members in recognition of their contributions in recent months.

Elaine said that today "is about thanks, not only for our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout this period, in different ways, working additional hours.

"But also to our communities and public who have supported us through volunteering and helping us keep services running through donations that people have given so willingly to our NHS staff, to keep our team’s morale up, which has been really appreciated."

Tomorrow's focus will be on health and wellbeing, and the trust has organised a number of virtual mental health, yoga and mindfulness classes for staff.

"It is about that recognition that we need to take care of ourselves, and that it’s important to look after our own physical health and mental health throughout this period," Elaine said.