The People’s Choice palliative care rally due to take place at the former hospice site in Jarrow on Saturday, March 21 has been postponed until further notice, with people advised to avoid public gatherings due to the spread of coronavirus.
But organiser of the event, Kay Smith, a former nurse who launched a petition to bring end-of-life care back to the Primrose Terrace building earlier this year, has assured supporters that she is “not giving up the fight”.
More than 13,500 South Tyneside residents signed the petition in a matter of weeks. It was due to be delivered to Downing Street on March 23.
However, as Covid-19 continues to spread across the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised people to stop non-essential contact with others and all unnecessary travel.
They have also been urged to “avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues”.
As of Thursday, March 19 there are more than 2,600 confirmed cases in the UK and 103 people have died - 65 patients have recovered.
In a statement Kay said: “After speaking with government officials today I've been advised we need to follow the guidelines regarding the coronavirus - avoiding crowds, public gatherings, close contact with people, as all could cause us serious harm.
“I'm extremely disappointed to have to postpone Saturday’s rally but feel as the virus is working its way towards us in the North East, we should take as much care as possible to protect ourselves. We are all at risk ultimately, even more so the vulnerable amongst us.”
She continued to say that campaigners would also be unable to deliver the petition to Number 10 on Monday as all the government’s efforts go towards reducing the impact of the pandemic.
“I have been advised that even if we attempt to travel to London with the petition on Monday it may not even be looked at yet as all efforts are being put into solutions to help with the pandemic.
“I've therefore postponed the petition delivery to maximize its power at a later date.
“Please do not underestimate the power of the people and what your 13,500 voices can do - your voices are just on hold. Keep positive for another time, hopefully in the not too distant future.”
More than 1,000 supporters were expected to show up on Saturday in a bid to show health bosses in the borough the power behind the petition.
Kay added: “I know you will be as disappointed as I am, but it's not cancelled, just postponed. We are not giving up the fight to save St Clare's building.”
St Clare’s collapsed into insolvency in January 2019 after more than 30 years, leaving the borough without end-of-life care.
For updates visit Kay Smith – Shields Community Warriors on Facebook.