- Title: London volunteers feed nurses for free as virus deaths surge
- Date: 23rd March 2020
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 23, 2020) (REUTERS) VOLUNTEERS CARRYING BAGS OF FOOD AND HANDING THEM OVER TO NURSES OUTSIDE ST. GEORGE'S HOSPITAL IN SOUTH LONDON VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS TALKING TO NURSES / NURSES PUTTING FOOD PARCELS ONTO TROLLEYS (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLUNTEER, JANNEKE DIEMEL, SAYING: "So basically, one of the main reasons we're here is that when the nurses are finishing a long shift - and the doctors - they've been going to the shops and there's no food supplies left. So we're hoping to bring in provisions, not only lunches and dinners, but some basic staples that they can come and grab, so they don't have to worry. They'll be exhausted anyway. So they'll just be able to grab what they need and head off home, and hopefully have a good night's sleep before coming in again." NURSES PREPARING TO CART FOOD AWAY SIGN ON HOSPITAL WALL READING (English) "ST JAMES WING" (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLUNTEER, JANNEKE DIEMEL, SAYING: "It was really because of an appeal I had from a nurse at the hospital who said they were struggling, in terms of feeding, getting access to food when some of their local store providers at the hospital closed down. So we thought actually we can easily, through my networks and through my husband's networks, we can ask a few of the local community people to say, do you want to get involved and let's give the nurses and doctors a bit of food?" VOLUNTEERS HANDING OVER BOXES OF PASTRIES NURSES STACKING TROLLEY WITH BOXES OF FOOD NURSES PUSHING TROLLEY AND BOXES AWAY (SOUNDBITE) (English) VOLUNTEER, JANNEKE DIEMEL, SAYING: "From the initial morning when we first set up the pay pool - and we raised 600 pounds in just a few hours - we're nearing 25,000 pounds worth of donations in just a few days. So we're setting up all the wheels in motion to try and get legal charity status." NURSES PUSHING TROLLEY INTO HOSPITAL GENERAL VIEW OF ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY WING AT HOSPITAL
- Keywords: COVID-19 St George's Hospital Volunteers coronavirus food food supply nurses outbreak pandemic south London
- Reuters ID: LVA001C69XJ5Z
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Duration: 00:03:05
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: As coronavirus deaths surge in Britain, a group of London volunteers has set up a catering service to provide free meals for hard-pressed nurses at a major public hospital fighting the pandemic.
The group, called Critical NHS, gets food from local businesses and delivers it three times a day to nurses and other frontline staff at St. George's Hospital in south London.
Many British people are proud and protective of the National Health Service and the free care it provides. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday (March 22) that NHS could be "overwhelmed" by the coronavirus in just two weeks.
The government said on Monday (March 23) that the virus has now killed 281 people and infected 5,683, with London hardest hit.
Critical NHS, the volunteer group, was set up on Thursday (March 19) by husband and wife Niall Barrett and Janneke Diemel, who were responding to an appeal from a senior nurse at St. George's to "drop off a box of biscuits or something the staff can snack on."
Barrett and Diemel - he's a handyman, she runs a golf business - were quickly joined by two part-time coaches from Battersea Ironsides, a local rugby club.
Many other local people have offered to drive, cook or run the new Twitter account.
A crowdfunding account set up on PayPal raised Â£22,000 in just four days.
Barrett said many nurses were too busy to buy food, or found their usual eating places had closed.
Local pubs and restaurants donate meals or sell them cheaply. Then the volunteers at Critical NHS deliver the meals to the hospital's general intensive care unit, where it is distributed to nurses, ambulance crew, porters and other staff.
By sourcing the food locally, he said the group hopes to help hard-hit small businesses stay afloat.
A Chinese restaurant and a pizzeria sold the group food at half price, while a pub gave it 40 Sunday roasts - a British tradition - at cost.
Flush with donations, the volunteers plan to to set up a food bank at St. George's where nurses can get pasta, eggs, milk, tampons and other basic supplies.
Last week a video on social media showed an exhausted nurse driven to tears after finding shelves bare after her shift at a critical care unit in York.
Critical NHS is also earmarking money to pay for hotels for nurses who can't get home between shifts, and said it had received requests to extend its services to another London hospital.
Around 12% of adult critical care beds in hospitals in England are now occupied by patients with COVID-19, England's deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, said on Sunday.
With over 9,000 staff, St. George's University Hospitals, the NHS trust that runs the hospital, says it is the largest healthcare provider in southwest London.
At the back of its sprawling grounds in Tooting is a special unit to deal with cases of the coronavirus.
Another group, called Clap For Carers, is calling for all 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."
Similar public gestures have taken place in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and India.
(Production: Ben Makori)
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