Former Love Island contestant Priya Gopaldas is preparing to embark on a gruelling Ultra-X Marathon in the Sri Lankan heat to raise funds for NHS Charities Together.
Having worked in an Intensive Care Unit during the height of the pandemic, the fifth-year medical student has seen first-hand the devastation Covid-19 caused, and why support for NHS staff mental health is so desperately needed right now.
Priya said: “Saying the last two years have been intense is an understatement. Working in ICU we were surrounded by people who were dying in unprecedented numbers. Seeing patients die is something you never really get used to, but during the pandemic it was relentless – and I remember seeing young, healthy patients who should not be dying at that age die from Covid. You can only imagine the mental impact that had on NHS workers.”
“Counselling was available to me at the time, and while I didn’t personally use it I know other NHS staff who did, and how important it was. That’s why the work of NHS Charities Together is so vital – NHS staff need their help to get through the challenges they continue to face, and I wish people knew the difference their donations can make.”
Priya’s challenge will consist of running for five days straight in the Ultra X ‘ultramarathon’ in Sri Lanka from 21st–26th March, where temperatures will average at 30 degrees. She will be running a total of 250km, after training in the heat to help her to adjust to the temperatures in the country. She has found that running significantly helps her to manage her chronic lung condition, bronchiectasis.
Priya adds: “Many people with chronic conditions are scared to exercise, but for me running is the best form of management for my condition. I want to support NHS charities because I want to give back to the people that inspire me, but I also want to inspire people to take up running as a way to manage and prevent some chronic conditions. Not only will exercise help people individually, it will help the NHS because it will take pressure off services.”
“It’s easy from the outside to look at cancelled appointments and long waiting times and be frustrated by the NHS, but people don’t see how many hours staff put in behind the scenes. Everyone has to realise how hard staff are working and we need to take care of them, because they won’t be able to take care of us if we don’t.”
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “We are so grateful to Priya for embarking on this incredible challenge and giving back to NHS charities in this way. Staff have been through so much during the last two years and continue to need our support as they recover from the most challenging time in NHS history.
“As the national, independent charity caring for the NHS, we are here for the long-term and want to help the service go further for all of us. The NHS can’t face every challenge alone and every single fundraiser and supporter, like Priya, makes a difference to staff, patients and volunteers. With your help we can fund the important extras government budgets can’t stretch to, and achieve better healthcare for us all.”
To donate to Priya’s Just Giving page visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/priyagopaldas
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With the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS workforce and services that are busier than ever, NHS Charities Together needs to continue to be there for the people of the NHS. With your help, we can continue working with alongside NHS charities across the UK to provide much needed support for staff including counselling, helplines, and specialist psychological support.
Together, we can help the NHS go further.