COVID-19 SPECIAL

Clapping for coronavirus front-line fighters: 'Why I started it'

Mr Martin Verga was inspired by the #ClapforNHS movement, which saw millions of Britons applauding National Health Service staff, and wanted to do the same for front-line workers in Singapore.
Mr Martin Verga was inspired by the #ClapforNHS movement, which saw millions of Britons applauding National Health Service staff, and wanted to do the same for front-line workers in Singapore. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Across the island at 8pm last Monday, the sound of people clapping burst from windows, balconies and doorways.

The applause was part of Clap For #SGUnited, a campaign to get the public to show their appreciation for those on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign started through a Facebook event created by British expat Martin Verga, 30, who has lived here for 10 years. He had been inspired by #ClapforNHS, which saw millions of Britons applauding National Health Service staff.

"I thought it would be a great idea to bring it to Singapore because the community in Singapore has always been amazing to me, in terms of the spirit of coming together," he says. "The community here spends a lot of time with one another, and there is a lot of interaction, like at hawker centres or foodcourts."

Mr Verga, who works in finance, lives in the Novena area with his wife, Laura, 31. He says the turn-out in his area last Monday was "incredible".

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, he felt that it was important for the community to stick together and unite in different ways.

After Monday's success, many people got in contact with him, expressing their amazement at how the event had taken off, says Mr Verga. Many suggested that the initiative continue every Monday.

"It's a great thing to do while we are going through these times. Until we can come out the other side, it's not too much to ask for everyone to (show their appreciation this way)," says Mr Verga.

He has created a new Facebook event for tomorrow at 8pm, and has stated on the page that the initiative will continue every Monday.

 
 
 
 

He hopes the community also takes the opportunity to volunteer and support one another in ways that they can, especially to help front-liners tackling the outbreak.

He added that people could check out the community initiatives on the SG United website.

"You can help your neighbours and people you know going through tough times at the moment. There are really so many things you can do, such as volunteer or donate spare cash," says Mr Verga.

He and his wife have donated to The Courage Fund, and are looking to show support in other ways.

"I feel very much part of the community," he says.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 05, 2020, with the headline 'Clapping for front-line fighters: 'Why I started it''. Print Edition | Subscribe