We decided to look into the best ways to support frontline staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, speaking to over 30 experts across a number of areas including hospitality, health care, and transport. For Dr. Alka Patel, simple compassion is often a good place to start. “Doctors are notoriously resistant to reaching out for help for themselves,” said Patel, who has set up the Work Well Doctors, a support network offering mental-health support for NHS workers. “The best way to show you care is to ask after any health-care staff you are in contact with.”
When it comes to supporting transport workers, including TfL staff, the best thing to do may be nothing. “Nearly a third of TfL’s staff are now off sick or self-isolating — including train drivers and crucial control centre staff,” said Sadiq Khan in a statement. “We still need more Londoners to do the right thing and stay at home.” As part of our lockdown coverage, we’ve also reported on how to safely accept home deliveries, including how to keep your delivery person safe.
How to give money
As the most urgent products — such as NCP 6N nitrile examination gloves, ventilators, and respirators — aren’t available to the general public, one of the best ways to support health-care professionals is by donating money.
Causes like Salute the NHS — a partnership between Tesco, Yodel, and catering company Absolute Taste — have pledged to deliver 1 million meals to NHS staff, including ICU staff, anaesthetic teams, and A&E staff, who are often unable to leave clinical areas during their 12-hour shifts (the current protocol being adopted by all COVID-19 designated hospitals). “This service enables them to stay close to wards at all times without having to change out of protective clothing,” a Yodel spokesperson told the Strategist UK. Check your borough or local council for schemes in your area. Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity, for example, is crowdfunding for snacks, bottled water, and toiletries.
How to give PPE
“Despite the government and NHS shipping millions of items of PPE every week, there remain gaps at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19,” said a spokesperson for the Doctor’s Association UK. The Let’s Beat COVID initiative, in partnership with DAUK and NHS Hero’s Support, is collecting donations to provide better PPE for all NHS doctors, nurses, and clinical staff. They have already ordered 10,000 FFP2 masks and are now sourcing visors, coveralls, and scrubs as well as alcohol hand gel.
The government has issued official guidelines for companies wishing to make high numbers of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help tackle COVID-19. Once assessed and approved for use according to European regulations, any PPE can be produced for NHS health-care workers and donated via the government.
There are also schemes in place allowing small businesses to donate their PPE (personal protective equipment) to frontline workers. Check your local council’s guidelines. Or, why not donate to the National 3D Printing Society — they are making their own face shields from scratch, and will be delivering nationwide.
MedSupplyDriveUK (MSDUK) is desperately seeking industries who can donate PPE across Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. And Masks for Heroes, a scheme founded by Karl Melkerts and James Hogg, is building a database of companies or individuals with excess or unused masks, goggles, and respirators in order to provide them to local charities and hospitals. “We want to have the information ready in the event that our health workers run low on key infection prevention supplies,” a spokesperson told the Strategist UK. “We are appealing to any businesses who would normally use PPE to check if they have any spare items they’d be willing to donate,” Melkerts and Hogg said in an email. “No matter how small a supply you have, it could make an important difference.”
How to give food
As well as respecting NHS-only shopping hours at supermarkets, there are crowdfunding campaigns and local restaurants working to get food to NHS workers, who are often working 24-hour shifts.
“We’re sending out 200 to 300 pizzas — that feeds between 1,000 to 1,500 staff — a week, across five local hospitals,” marketing manager Georgina Hayward tells the Strategist UK. She adds that Yard Sale are hoping to increase their delivery radius and frequency soon.
Pastry chef Dominique Ansel has joined Feed Your Community, an enterprise that aims to provide free meals to NHS staff, frontline workers, the homeless, and privileged children. And restaurants such as Benares in Mayfair are donating a meal to NHS workers across London hospitals for every takeaway ordered.
How to donate toiletries
Health-care workers are spending days at a time away from their homes, so toiletries and basic hygiene products are now essential for staff, and very much in demand. Jo Jones and Sali Hughes, who set up Beauty Bank, have launched Helping Hands, a GoFundMe raising money for toiletries and other essential products. They will be allocating spending on soap (adult and baby), body wash, handwash, hand sanitiser, and laundry detergent, and the funding page states, “All donations will be shared with Beauty Banks’ UK registered charity partners that include food banks, homeless shelters, domestic abuse refuges, youth centres, NHS trusts and refugee centres across the UK.”
And a few ways that companies are giving back to NHS workers
We’ll be updating this story with additional companies that have NHS and keyworker schemes. If there’s a company or a discount you think we should feature, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
In an Instagram post, Sweaty Betty wrote that they’re offering a 25 percent discount to all health workers — we reached out them to ask if that applies to sales items, and they’ve let us know that it does. You can livechat on the Sweaty Betty site to apply the discount.
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