LETTERS FROM LOCKDOWN
Sustaining Public Service Values During the Covid-19 Pandemic
by Claire Foster-Gilbert, Treena Fleming Dawn Butler and Peter Howitt
‘A moving chronicle of lockdown that tracks Britain’s journey of self-discovery and suggests the road to a kinder world.’ – Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor
Letters from Lockdown comprises 12 weekly letters written by the Director of Westminster Abbey Institute during the Coronavirus lockdown, and three accompanying essays that give the deeply personal perspectives of a politician, a civil servant and a police officer as the crisis unfolds.
The letters are addressed to the public servants trying to carry the nation through the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and were written to be a source of strength and support. As she wrote them, the author was unaware how events would unfold. Nevertheless, the 12-week period formed a narrative arc not unlike a classic ‘hero’s journey’ and the letters show some similarities and differences between the classic plot and what the nation and its public servants had actually been through. The letters offer ways of strengthening public servants to make them ready, constant and enduring in their response to the needs of the nation. They speak of strengthening not just the soul of individual public servants but also of their institutions.
The essays address not only the private and public struggles of public servants during the crisis but ask what, if anything, will change in our world as a result of the pandemic. They seek to equip public servants to respond to and shape emerging worlds and new needs.
CLAIRE FOSTER-GILBERT is Director of Westminster Abbey Institute. DAWN BUTLER is Labour MP for Brent. PETER HOWITT is Director in the Department for Health and Social Care. TREENA FLEMING is a Detective Chief Superintendent.