Letters from Lockdown

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


When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, the nation faced its greatest trial for generations. Our public servants were called on to stand firm as the threat of coronavirus grew.

As founder director of Westminster Abbey Institute, created to promote public service values and virtues, Claire Foster-Gilbert wrote a weekly letter to the Institute’s Fellows and other public servants. Collected in Letters from Lockdown, the twelve letters offered ways of fortifying public servants to make them ready, constant and enduring in their response to the needs of the nation.

The accompanying reflections, each by a public servant, are testament to the private and public struggles faced during the crisis and ask what, if anything, will change as a result.

As the world continues to evolve in response to the pandemic, Letters from Lockdown offers a moment to pause and reflect, helping us to make sense of what we have lived through and preparing us for what might lie ahead.

An excerpt of Dawn Butler’s piece, ‘Lessons in Resilience: An MP’s Perspective’ can be read on Guardian website here.

CLAIRE FOSTER-GILBERT is the founder director of Westminster Abbey Institute. A public philosopher and author, Foster-Gilbert has played an instrumental role in the field of medical research ethics and environmental issues.

TREENA FLEMING is a Detective Chief Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police Service. She has been the local police Commander for North Area Basic Command Unit, which incorporates the London boroughs of Enfield and Haringey, since April 2019.

DAWN BUTLER is Labour Member of Parliament for the constituency of Brent Central. She is Former Shadow Equalities Minister and made history as the first African-Caribbean female MP to hold a position as minister in the UK.

PETER HOWITT is a senior civil servant. He is Incident Director in the Department of Health and Social Care and an Honorary Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Health Policy, Imperial College London.

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