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Bafta-winning Syrian filmmaker switches careers to clean hospital wards

Hassan Akkad, who moved to London four years ago, said he wanted to give back to the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Bafta-winning Syrian photographer and filmmaker has temporarily changed careers to spend his time disinfecting Covid-19 wards at his local hospital.

Hassan Akkad, who moved to London four years ago, said he wanted to give back to the NHS during the pandemic, and so took the minimum-wage job as a way of contributing.

He wrote on Twitter: “I am honoured to join an army of cleaners.

“London has been my home since leaving Syria and the least I can do is make sure my neighbours and the amazing NHS staff are safe and sound.”

The tweet quickly went viral with many praising his attitude.

Mr Akkad, 32, told the PA news agency: “I can clean — the benefit of having a Syrian mum is I know how to clean really well.”

He did not know when he was applying that he would be working on Covid-19 wards, but said when he was told: “I knew I was willing to do it.”

Mr Akkad arrived in the UK in late 2015, filming all 87 days of his perilous journey from Syria — a film that would later go on to win a Bafta and an Emmy.

However, after the UK was placed into lockdown, future work and projects began to dry up.

He said: “I know there is a risk, but I am not treating patients, I am merely a cleaner and disinfecting the ward. But I know my job makes a difference because I know as cleaners we are looking out for the NHS staff.

“It was overwhelming to see the reaction to the tweet. But I don’t want all the credit. I am only doing this temporarily and there are people out there who are the actual heroes because they do this for years.”

PA Media