No more coffee and cakes: London cafe owner shuts down business to volunteer for NHSRecord ID: 1466089
- Title: No more coffee and cakes: London cafe owner shuts down business to volunteer for NHS
- Date: 26th March 2020
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 25, 2020) (REUTERS) GAJIA TALKING TO STAFF MEMBERS IN CAFE WHILE PACKING TAKEAWAY BAGS GAJIA HANDING TAKE AWAY BAG TO STAFF MEMBER (SOUNDBITE) (English), OWNER OF BAKE STREET CAFE, AMIRAH GAJIA, SAYING: "I think I've seen the best in humanity at the moment in such a such a horrible time. Everyone is really trying to support each other and help each other. And if I've got the time, why not? Why shouldn't I do what I can to help - to help ease the burden on the NHS? Especially because I know a lot of the doctors and the nurses are doing long hours and I think everyone should play their part and everyone should help each other out in kind of coming together and squashing this." VARIOUS OF GAJIA PACKING TAKE AWAY BAGS
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus NHS cafe closure food outbreak pandemic shops volunteers
- Reuters ID: LVA005C6OV4G7
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / INTERNET
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / INTERNET
- Country: United Kingdom
- Duration: 00:01:36
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: The coronavirus shutdown imposed by the UK government means Amirah Gajia's popular brunch cafe in a vibrant corner of Hackney, north London, has been hit hard.
After initially offering takeaway services to a local multi-cultural crowd of families and hipsters, the progressive tightening of social restrictions led Gajia to close the doors to Bake Street on Wednesday (March 25).
Due to the health implications of the coronavirus outbreak, the 30-year-old simply felt it was no longer safe to ask her staff to come into work.
But, instead of staying indoors like most of the population, Gajia became one of more than 560,000 people who signed up to help Britain's under-pressure National Health Service (NHS) within 24 hours of a government appeal.
"I thought that's a great thing that I could do with my time... why not give back and make sure that I'm doing something good with my time off?" Gajia told Reuters.
The appeal came as the limits of the health service began to be tested by the burgeoning coronavirus outbreak, which most experts say is weeks away from its peak. With the number of cases in the capital rising dramatically, the ExCeL conference venue in east London has even been designated as a temporary field hospital with capacity for 4,000 patients.
There have also been reports of a lack of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) - something Gajia has heard from friends in the NHS.
The NHS, which since it was founded just after World War Two has offered healthcare for free to everyone living in Britain, inspires such loyalty in the public that it is sometimes compared to a religion.
After the government issued its appeal for 250,000 volunteers to come forward on Tuesday evening, 405,000 people signed up within a day.
Gajia said that there were a range of roles she could have filled to help the NHS, but she thought it would be best to make the use of her car to make much needed deliveries of medical supplies.
She said that, despite the stark changes its imposed on society, the coronavirus emergency had brought out the best in people.
"Everyone is really trying to support each other and help each other," she said.
"I know a lot of the doctors and the nurses are doing long hours and I think everyone should play their part and everyone should help each other out in coming together and squashing this."
Gajia said she will spend the next few weeks helping the NHS before thinking how she can adjust her business model if the shutdown continues.
However, she thinks she's quite an organised person and can see herself juggling her business alongside continued volunteering.
(Production: Will Russell, Jonathan Shenfield, Ben Dangerfield)
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