Fulham actor holds cardboard plaques for COVID victims outside parliament

A Fulham actor has stood outside parliament every Wednesday for a year holding the names of COVID victims on cardboard plaques to shame the government.

Ellis Tustin, 26, creates plaques from recycled cardboard to commemorate those who died from coronavirus in the UK.

His campaign, Names Not Numbers, aims to raise awareness of the Government’s handling of the pandemic and is pushing for a criminal investigation.

Fulham Broadway resident Tustin said: “Our government has committed a crime. Their negligence in such an important position of power is criminal.

“If Boris Johnson doesn’t get his comeuppance on this we’ll haunt him.

“Every Conservative conference he does, Names Not Numbers will be there – we’re the shame they want to wriggle off.”

A campaigner holds plaques bearing the slogans #NamesNotNumbers and Justice for Covid-19 Victims
NAMES NOT NUMBERS: A campaigner holds a cardboard plaque petitioning for justice for COVID-19 victims

He referenced the way Boris Johnson openly shook hands with people displaying COVID symptoms and delayed shutting the UK’s borders.

Mr Tustin lost his grandfather Berrice Moore to COVID-19 at the age of 87 last year.

He was unable to attend the funeral in Worcestershire due to lockdown, so he held his own in Fulham, donning a suit and playing Vera Lynn in his grandfather’s memory.

But he was dumbfounded that on the day of the funeral he could still see planes coming in from abroad.

So he took to parliament with a makeshift headstone bearing Mr Moore’s name and waited for the PM to arrive.

Ellis Tustin holds a cardboard headstone dedicated to his late grandfather Berrice Moore whilst standing outside the Houses of Parliament
A TRIBUTE TO BERRICE: Ellis Tustin holds a cardboard headstone dedicated to his late grandfather

This became a weekly ritual and Mr Tustin began to take requests for plaques from the families of other COVID victims.

He believes memorialisation is a healing device and emphasises the importance of the social elements of grief, from a familiar face at a funeral to two veterans who have never met observing a moment of silence together at a cenotaph.

Hence he treats each of the 300 headstones he has made with the greatest care, even keeping them dry when it rains.

A number of cardboard headstones have been tied together on the floor in Trafalgar Square creating a makeshift headstone
A TEMPORARY MEMORIAL: Names Not Numbers have created a makeshift memorial by tying cardboard plaques together

Names Not Numbers are campaigning for 23 March, the anniversary of lockdown, to become a permanent memorial day.

Tustin claimed it is not in the government’s interest to scrutinise their actions, as this would imply an admission of guilt, but this doesn’t deter him.

He said: “If it stops someone in Scotland or Wales from feeling complete isolation and instead feeling that someone is fighting their corner, that’s a victory.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Conservative Party declined to comment.

A group of campaigners are holding signs with the names of victims of COVID-19 in front of banners which read "You failed the people and the people paid with their lives" and "Those lost to COVID-19 are not statistics. They deserve justice. They deserved better."
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: A group of campaigners petition for justice whilst social distancing

All images credited to Ellis Tustin

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