On the 19th of March 2020, we had a personal appeal from a nurse at St George’s Hospital who has worked there for over 23 years. In her appeal, she asked for a box of biscuits or chocolates the nurses could snack on to help boost morale – and within 24 hours, she had amassed three large bin bags full of goodies. That’s when we spoke to her and said we would try and help provide some food – other than sweets!
So much has happened since then – it’s difficult to put into words as we have been inundated by so much community spirit and kindness – but most importantly, we were able to deliver regular meals to exhausted frontline staff who weren’t able to buy provisions ts supermarkets, or they were just too physically or emotionally exhausted to think about cooking a meal. By developing a network of local suppliers, restaurants and caterers, we began to supply hot or chilled foods on a daily basis.
Since launching – we have not only helped deliver meals to where they were needed most, but much needed PPE when supplies dwindled, allowed patients to see loved ones by getting tablets donated to critical wards, developed bespoke name-labels so NHS staff could identify each other behind their layers of protective clothing, delivered 500 goody bags, and early on (when supermarket shelves were bare) supplied basic foods stuffs like pasta, milk, bread, eggs, sanitary goods and toilet roll. We have run numerous fundraising events and enjoyed the support of local celebrities who helped deliver food and raise our profile – Guy Henry (Holby City), Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Thomas Frake (Masterchef Champion 2020), and Imogen Thomas (Welsh Model).
Over the summer we extended our reach to include the distribution of meals to those more vulnerable members of the community who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
I should add that number of our core team are affiliated to the Battersea Ironsides Sports Club (through junior rugby) and have supported us with their personal commitment and expertise from the outset; and Jus Fine Food, who have been instrumental in helping set up our support of the homeless and vulnerable. We have also worked alongside a number of local initiatives including Home Cook Army (who helped deliver meals direct to the elderly and vulnerable across SW London), South London Scrubbers (who helped supply home sewn scrubs to staff at St George’s, Kings College and Lewisham hospitals), Old Wimbledonians RFC (who we helped fund 20,213 meals for NHS staff at Kingston and Teddington Hospitals), Food4Heroes (who we helped fund meals to Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath) and Hospitality for Heroes (who we helped fund 100,000 meals to NHS, Age UK and NHS Prison Staff).
To date, with your help, Critical NHS has raised over £330,000 from public/private donations, which has allowed us to co-ordinate and deliver over 125,000 meals to front line staff at 23 hospitals and numerous community initiatives, whilst providing a much-needed lifeline to many local businesses who may otherwise have ceased trading.