Sachini Imbuldeniya on viral #YouClapForMeNow video

We speak to Sachini Imbuldeniya, the producer of #YouClapForMeNow coronavirus poem on racism and immigration in the UK.

A video featuring UK residents and people of foreign heritage reciting an anti-racist poem has highlighted the crucial role immigrant workers are playing in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You Clap for Me Now, written by Darren James Smith, features Britons with Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who are key workers during the global pandemic.

They include doctors, nurses, teachers, shopkeepers and delivery drivers, many of whom have previously experienced discrimination. 

We spoke with Sachin Imbuldeniya, who produced the video which begins with the message: “What the UK is most afraid of has come from overseas, taking our jobs and making it unsafe to walk the streets.”

Imbuldeniya came up with the video concept as a reminder that a large number of “key workers” come from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

“We want to stop people assuming that certain jobs are unskilled and therefore unworthy,” she says.

“And we need to remember that we are stronger as a nation when we welcome people from all ethnicities and backgrounds to our shores to work and live alongside each other. Because, as we’ve discovered, at times of crisis we all need to support and look out for each other, regardless of your race.” 

The poem urges people not to forget these front line workers once the coronavirus pandemic ends. 

Imbuldeniya says the government’s “hostile environment” policy and the rise of xenophobia have contributed to racism against minorities in the past few years.

“The fear of the unknown, the fear of something different,” she tells us.

“I think that’s what makes people ignorant and racist, and I feel like the only way we can tackle that is through knowledge and education. And that’s what we really hope this video will do in order for us to never return to the hostile environment that we’ve experienced in the past.”

The inspiration for the video came from a United Nations brief asking creatives to put out messages of positivity and solidarity focused around the current pandemic.

Imbuldeniya insists that showing appreciation for front line workers is not meant to make a political point, but rather a humanitarian one.

“We recognised that the coronavirus has seen a much-deserved shift in what we now see as an essential key worker,” Imbuldeniya says.

“Ironically, despite being socially distanced from each other, we are now a far more United Kingdom than we’ve ever been before.” 

This report was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Seena Khalil.