To coincide with the clocks going back over the weekend, high-profile brands donated their advertising space to a charity and unions asked people to spare a thought for the millions working night shifts.
For one hour, between 7-8pm on Saturday 29 October, digital billboards across the UK displayed an image of Marie Curie nurse Sally Monger-Godfrey, the face of the charity’s Extra Hour campaign.
“It’s really important that more people are aware of the work that our nurses do”
Accompanying the image were words urging people to support the terminal illness charity’s nurses, working through the night to care for people living with terminal illness.
Sites included one of the most iconic advertising locations in the world – the lights at Piccadilly Circus. Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Samsung and Hyundai all donated advertising time by turning their panels at Piccadilly Circus yellow.
The brands also pledged their support for the Extra Hour campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the fact that Marie Curie nurses work overnight in patients’ homes.
Other brands and media owners that donated advertising space included EDF Energy, Amazon, Spotify, WH Smith, the Daily Telegraph, Primesight, Rapport and Verifon Media.
“It is quite strange to imagine my face appearing on all these billboards”
Ms Monger-Godfrey said: “I’m not a particularly shy person but it is quite strange to imagine my face appearing on all these billboards across the country – that doesn’t happen to most people.
“But I’m of course incredibly proud to be a Marie Curie nurse and proud of my fellow nurses who, like me, were working through the night as the clocks went back,” she said.
Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie – formerly Marie Curie Cancer Care – said: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to all the brands and media owners who have donated their advertising space in recognition of the work that our amazing nurses do.
“It’s really important that more people are aware of the work that our nurses do and that they are able to receive our help if and when they need it,” she added.
Piccadilly Circus recognises nurses working ‘extra hour’
Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress urged people to spare a thought for the millions of UK workers who regularly work through the night.
New analysis published by the TUC shows that the number of people who work night shifts increased by 275,000 (9%) between 2011 and 2016 to 3,135,000.
Night-workers now account for 12% of the UK’s employees, said the TUC, with women fuelling the growing trend.
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of women regularly doing night work increased by 190,000, while for men it increased by 86,000, it noted.
The two most common professions for female night-workers are care work and nursing. Women doing night shifts in these roles has increased by 15% and 4%, respectively, over the past five years.
The age group with the highest proportion of night-workers is 45-49. However, the most common age group for female night-workers is 25-29.
Geographically, London has seen the largest growth in night-workers over the past five years, followed by the South West and Wales.
The TUC said the introduction of the Night Tube in London and proposals for a seven-day NHS across England were likely to lead to further increases in night work in coming years.
The body said it did not oppose night-working, but argued that employers must properly consider and address its impact on staff.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Whether it’s nurses looking after patients, or police officers keeping our streets safe, we all depend on Britain’s army of night-workers.
“Night work is hard and can disrupt family life. So we must show our appreciation for the sacrifices night-workers make by ensuring they have good rights and protections at work,” she said.
“Employers must play fair and play safe, or public safety will be put at risk and the families of night workers will suffer,” she added.