The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons — and they’re not all about hand-washing and home-schooling. If we weren’t aware of it already, we now know that ordinary people doing ordinary jobs — many of which are classified as “unskilled” — are just as worthy of celebration and adoration as the celebrities that grace the covers of glossy magazines.
That’s exactly the message behind British Vogue’s July issue, which focuses not on Hollywood A-listers or the fashion elite, but on the essential frontline workers of the U.K. who are making an incredible contribution to their communities. To pay tribute to a range of key workers, from supermarket staff to doctors, photographer Jamie Hawkesworth cycled all across London to capture photos for the magazine.
The gatefold cover features three women, including Narguis Horsford, a London Overground train driver from Bounds Green, north London. She has had to distance herself from her family since the crisis started but said, “I can’t see myself doing anything else.” She also told Vogue that she doesn’t consider herself a hero, but is “proud of being a train driver and the essential role we are playing during the coronavirus crisis.”
Horsford (shown in the Instagram post from British Vogue below) told Vogue that the coronavirus pandemic has taught her not to take anything for granted.
Also on the gatefold cover is Rachel Millar, a community midwife in east London. She often works 24-hour shifts, even during the pandemic, to deliver babies and help make expectant and new moms feel less anxious. Millar relied on her bike to get around until it was stolen while she was on duty. Her friends raised money to buy her a new one.
“After the 8pm clapping and free meals fade, I hope that the NHS won’t be forgotten,” Millar told Vogue, referencing Britain’s National Health Service. “We will be busy rebuilding and restoring from a time of huge upheaval.”
Also featured on the cover is supermarket assistant Anisa Omar, who works as a checker at Waitrose, in London’s King’s Cross, when she’s not attending university to get her business management degree.
“Before the pandemic, my job was not really that big a deal, but now it’s like we’re important,” she told Vogue. Despite the crisis, Omar said she feels safe at work and believes it’s part of her job to make her customers feel safe and happy as well.
“If you show in your face you feel some type of way about the pandemic, it shows to customers,” she said. “If I can put a smile on someone’s face because I’m smiling, that’s amazing for me. That’s all I need.”
The July 2020 issue of British Vogue is on newsstands now and is also available for digital download.