Covid-19 Urgent Appeal projects that are making a difference now

On 28th March 2024
Categories: 2024

On 23 March 2020 the nation went into lockdown and we launched our Covid-19 Urgent appeal, raising over £162 million.

This generosity from the British public has enabled us to fund thousands of projects to support NHS staff, patients and communities, including counselling and practical support for staff and patients, specialist equipment, emergency response volunteers and research into long Covid.

Read on to find out more about some of these projects.

East of England Ambulance Service Charity used the £508,000 it received to provide equipment and enhanced training, which helps people who have had falls, enabling volunteer community first responders (CFRs) to support patients who have fallen and alleviating pressure on the ambulance service.

The funding was also used to obtain six roving cars for CFRs, which means they can support patients over a wider geographical area and provide emergency cover in areas of high demand. The cars have done 75,000 miles and attended 3,500 patients.

Kate Lott, Head of Charity at East of England Ambulance Service Charity, said:

“We received just over £500,000 from NHS Charities Together which paid for six roving community first responder (CFR) cars and to deliver falls training and specialist falls equipment to 18 CFR groups around the East of England. This means we can get help to people who have had a fall faster, so they are less likely to need to go to hospital.”

Chris Lye, volunteer community first responder, said:

“It’s a huge privilege to be able to help or reassure someone who really needs our help, and be there for their families, friends and loved ones. It’s an extremely rewarding thing to do.”

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Charity used £51,000 from the funding received to support the local Pit Stop project, which is run by charity MensCraft and provides men in the local area with a safe space to discuss their mental health whilst doing activities like fishing, baking and walking.

Nick Buck, a MensCraft co-ordinator, said:

“I come from a generation where we don’t talk about our feelings – we might get a pat on the back if we’ve done something well but that was about it.

“It has almost brought a feeling that as a man you can’t talk about it, you have to prove yourself.”

According to Nick, this funding that the charity received has been a “complete lifeline” for both those who use its services and the charity itself, saying:

“Without that funding for the year we would have had to look for alternative sources.”

North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust’s charity were awarded £154,000 that enabled them to bring Hannah Canning on board as a health and wellbeing coordinator to support the staff working at the Trust and make sure they are looking after themselves.

Since joining the Trust, Hannah has worked on multiple schemes that include brightening up the working environment and encouraging staff to take some time for themselves.

Speaking about the difference her role has made, Hannah said:

“Thanks to the funding from NHS Charities Together’s Covid appeal, I support the trust to deliver its aims and initiatives, which means being compassionate, looking after staff and generally being a great place to work.

“This money was granted to North West Anglia’s hospital charity and it allows me to have a continued focus on the health and wellbeing of staff.

“At the moment I am focusing on individual wellbeing, team wellbeing and encouraging breaks and rest – so considering all things that affect staff while they are on shift and really considering the baseline, which is making sure that patients get the best care.”

Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity used funds raised through the urgent appeal to help run a three-year programme of wellbeing support for every member of staff at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW).

The programme included counselling sessions, a wellbeing role, and a health MOT screening nurse, and during the three years that it ran, more than 400 staff had a one-to-one health check, around 4,300 staff had psychological health services (PHS) support, and 900 people used the 24/7 staff helpline each year.

Peter, a staff member at UHBW, said:

“When I began a new role, the impact of Covid-19 meant things were uncertain, scary and really tough. I became extremely stressed, struggled to see the wood for trees and worked late into the night. I knew it wasn’t sustainable… It was so helpful to talk to someone. By supporting myself, I was in a better place to help my staff.” 

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool used funds raised through the appeal to provide neonatal telemedicine robots that made sure new mums and their babies were provided with the best possible care at the height of the second lockdown.

Paediatric and neonatal surgeons from Alder Hey and neonatologists from Liverpool Women’s Hospital work side-by-side on wards and in operating theatres to treat sick babies, but the pandemic made it harder for staff to move between the two hospitals. This new equipment meant that clinicians were able to carry out their vital work without having to travel to the relevant hospital site and be physically in the room.

We also awarded a total of £668,229 to Sheffield Hospitals Charity, who worked with South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation to support community organisations like Sheffield United Community Foundation (SUCF).

Part of Sheffield United Football Club, SUCF used £160,002 to design a programme that supports people aged over 16 who have been affected by cancer, and those at a greater risk of a cancer diagnosis, by engaging them in activities which improve their physical, mental and social well-being.

Katie Glossop, Senior Manager – Communities & Wellbeing SUCF, said:

“Covid-19 resulted in people facing longer waits for a cancer diagnosis. Some treatments were delivered in different ways, were interrupted, or even stopped on the grounds of clinical safety.

“This affected people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing significantly. Thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together, we have expanded our Fans FC programme, which is also funded by the Premier League, Professional Footballers Association and Weston Park Cancer Charity, to assist in the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer by raising awareness in the community, sharing preventative measures, and working with local organisations to promote different methods of support available.

“We’re also supporting those discharged from hospital and those affected by Covid-19 to engage in safe exercise. This concentrates on improving the physical, social and mental health of participants, and encouraging them to adopt a healthier lifestyle to reduce the likelihood of a repeat hospital admission and additional pressure on NHS services.” 

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