Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communities feel respected, needed, and empowered. And of course, happy! But do we say it often enough?

Politeness is one of the qualities often listed as under-pinning culture in this country but there’s a lot more to a ‘thank you’ than just manners; it’s about recognising and understanding other people and the day-to-day role they play in how our world works and how it all fits together.

It’s something to think about this weekend because Sunday is designated by the United Nations as Public Service Day, a day to remember the hard work of all those in the public sector, such as nurses, police officers, fire fighters, council workers, administrators, civil service workers and teachers.

If you haven’t heard of it that’s not a big surprise because, although it has been around since 2003, it hasn’t gained much traction in the UK and seems to have been largely overlooked, which is a huge shame.

READ MORE: A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

This year, however, there’s a new drive to raise awareness of the day and to ask people to say a simple ‘thank you’ to those in the public sector who have an impact on their lives - whether that’s collecting their litter, educating their children or treating their relatives in hospital.

The campaign has been launched by a Brighton-based mutual called Boundless, a membership club for the public sector based close to my constituency, and it’s certainly one I support.

One of the things I love most about this job is being able to visit people who are working in public service and to listen and learn from them. All of the challenges and issues I read about come to life when I can spend time with people who live and breathe it, so I try to do it as often as possible.

Since becoming an MP I’ve work-shadowed staff in the police, the ambulance service, and in a hospital - and it has given me a true insight into the skill, professionalism, and sheer graft that underpins our society.

I went along to meet some of the trainee nurses at the University of Brighton recently, and they were an amazing bunch. I met people in their 50's who were retraining, and people in their 20's who had never thought about nursing before but were now thrilled and excited and whose enthusiasm for nursing was completely infectious.

It’s natural that when people think of the public sector, or of public service workers, they may immediately think of the front-line workers such as those in the emergency service, but there are also millions beavering away behind the scenes.

Work shadowing the admittance and discharge department at the hospital brought this home to me, seeing in person the huge daily task they undertake trying to discharge patients that don’t have anywhere to go and finding beds for those that need them.

Sometimes it’s people with jobs that are often overlooked that make the most difference. For instance, the hospital porter with the big smile that makes all the difference to a patient’s experience. Or the road sweeper that we all take completely for granted until we see the visible debris after a big event, or until we head to work extra early one morning before they’ve been out. Or the hordes of local government workers who help keep our towns and cities running smoothly.

So, the chance to celebrate public service is something we should grab with both hands as a way to thank those in service today and to inspire those of tomorrow. A simple thank-you, on social media, in writing or in person, can make a real difference.

To join the conversation and share your stories as to how public sector workers have supported you, please use the hashtags #PublicServiceDay #timetosaythanks and include @bemoreboundless.


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