In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The 70th Birthday


I posted this poem up on Facebook on July 3rd. Two weeks later, it had received 1,146 “Likes” and “Loves” and had been “shared” 5,210 times. The poem is by Michael Rosen and, in turn, he shared it on his own Facebook timeline and that separate posting was further shared many times.

Michael was originally commissioned to write this poem ten years ago, in 2008, to celebrate the 60th birthday of the NHS.  He was the UK Children’s Poet Laureate at the time, but this poem was not just for children. He gave me his enthusiastic permission to include and display it on the website of “Poems for…the wall” and it can still be found there in the “Poems for…one world” collection. Anyone who registers on the site can download it from there. You will also find the same poem translated into Turkish, Greek, Punjabi and Somali – in recognition, and as a symbol, of the fact that all races gather in a healthcare waiting room, sharing our common fragility. Michael Rosen liked that idea, too.

Facebook was not around in 2008. But I think the poem’s popularity on this 70th birthday of the NHS is not just the result of this new way and opportunity to disseminate a good and moving public poem. Many people besides me are very aware that the NHS itself is fragile just now. And in the wrong hands.