'Critical NHS' volunteers give free food to nurses as virus deaths surge - British Herald
January 19, 2022

‘Critical NHS’ volunteers give free food to nurses as virus deaths surge

LONDON (UK Daily News) – A London volunteer group has set up a catering service offering free meals to nurses at a major public hospital fighting the pandemic, as the number of coronavirus deaths surge across the country.

Critical NHS reaches out to local businesses and collects the food to be delivered thrice a day to nurses and other frontline staff at south London’s St George’s Hospital.

The National Health Service and its provision of free healthcare has been revered by Britons around the country. On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a warning that the NHS could be “overwhelmed” by the coronavirus in just two weeks.

London is the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic countrywide.

The volunteer group Critical NHS was set up on Thursday by Niall Barrett and Janneke Diemel, a married couple, in response to an appeal from a senior nurse at St George’s requesting them to “drop off a box of biscuits or something the staff can snack on.” Barrett realised that most nurses were too busy to get their own food and most of their regular eating joints had shut down.

“Our first run was 20 pizzas. The nurses loved that, they were so appreciative. And then it kept growing and growing.”

– Niall Barrett

The couple runs a golf travel company and they were soon joined in their efforts by two part-time rugby coaches from a local club called Battersea Ironsides.

Local citizens have lent a hand and offered to drive, make donations or run their Twitter account too.

It also set up a PayPal crowdfunding account which raised an amount of 22,000 pounds in a matter of just four days.

Part of Critical NHS’ success was being able to find local pubs and restaurants to donate or sell them meals at a lower cost. These meals are then delivered to the hospital’s general ICU by volunteers to be distributed to nurses, ambulance crew and other staff.

Local sourcing of the food also helps the small businesses in the area, hit hard by the pandemic, stay afloat.

“Part of the ethos is to buy from local businesses. Then we can support them and support the nurses at the same time.”

– Niall Barrett

Nurses from St George have been appreciative of the incredible support and extended their gratitude to the community. Critical NHS’ support allows nurses to leave their homes without worrying about packing meals for work.

With the donations pouring in, the volunteers intend on setting up a food bank at the hospital for nurses to collect basic supplies like pasta, eggs, milk or tampons too.

The group has also been keeping some money aside for nurses to pay for hotels if they cannot get home between strenuous shifts. Critical NHS also has gotten requests to extend their services to another hospital in London.

Clap For Carers is another volunteer group calling for Britons to applaud at 8 p.m. on March 26 to show NHS staff “our appreciation for their ongoing hard work and fight against this virus.”

(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.

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