We were so happy to receive a call from a group of local business owners in Brockley and hear about their brilliant idea to support NHS staff at our local hospital. Patchwork is always about bringing people together to make something amazing happen and this project really is that. Read on to find out about the Frontline Food Box project to raise funds for our NHS heroes and how a small group of lovely people had a very big impact!
How did the Frontline Food Box project come about?
Frontline Food Boxes was set up by a small group of local business owners. They had all seen the news story of a distressed critical care nurse asking people to stop panic buying and emptying supermarket shelves of essentials. So they came together to pool resources and contacts and take practical action to help our hospital in Lewisham. The aim was to raise enough money for 100 food boxes, which would include items such as: pasta, rice, eggs, butter, fruit, vegetables and tinned goods. The parcels are being beautifully put together by the fundraising team and local businesses including Tony, the owner of the Provender delicatessen in Honor Oak. They are then being delivered by the hospital to staff they have nominated and who need some extra support at the moment.
What was the initial response like?
The Frontline Food Boxes patchwork page was initially shared with friends on WhatsApp and then on local FB community pages. People visiting the fund raising page can choose to chip in £2 for some fresh veggies or a packet of biscuits, or to fund a whole food box for £25. Within 24 hours they had their first 100 boxes funded!
Julia Glyn-Pickett, one of the fundraising leads said: “The initial idea was about convenience, but also community – we know that for many reasons it hasn’t been easy for staff at the hospital, and the NHS more widely, to get regular, basic supplies. At the same time local businesses wanted to help, and we knew people would want to show their thanks individually. The support we have received, with people donating just over £5000 in a week, is amazing – by pulling together as a community we are showing our huge appreciation in a way that the hospital says makes a real difference.”
How else can people help?
The group also had another lovely idea to get even the youngest supporters involved by asking them to write a letter (or draw a picture) of support to send by post. These notes will then be added to the food boxes to let our NHS workers know how much they are valued by us all – young and old. Julia says: “we thought it would be nice to get the kids and teens focussed on something – there’s a lot of anxiety out there and this is somewhere to channel it positively.” The team of volunteers are also printing out all the messages of support from the page, so that the staff can see all the lovely things people have said, as well as adding recipe cards and a hand cream or scented candle to the boxes, all provided at no cost by local businesses.
Who are the food boxes going to and when?
The team at Frontline delivered the first 20 boxes to Lewisham hospital on Friday 3rd April. The hospital wants to spread the support across what is likely to be a long-running period of need, to lift morale. The recipient of the first package was Gamal, who works in soft services (that means keeping the hospital clean!) and has been at the hospital for 20 years. The second package went to Geraldine who had just done 12 shifts on ITU, and the third to Robert, who heads up the stores! The packages will be delivered on a weekly basis, and handed to nominated staff as they come off their shift, allowing them go straight home to eat good food, rather than facing the supermarkets. It’s a way of rewarding staff that may have had an especially tough week, a way of making them feel really valued and special. Updates on the project are going out regularly to all those that have already donated (£5,300 raised at time of typing!) – so if that’s you – look out for those and a huge THANK YOU from all of us! We’ll be updating regularly on our own Patchwork Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram page too.
Like to set up something similar in your community?
We’ve made an easy-to-customise template that’s ready to go when you are. Just add the details of your project and share with your local network so that everyone can do a little bit to help support our amazing key workers. Whether they are NHS staff, refuse collection workers or any of the other dedicated people who are serving their communities at this time. Every small action, every person, and every group of committed volunteers will help. At this time more than ever, our community is our strength.
If you have any other questions about the project you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and of course the Frontline Food Boxes page is still open for contributions. Whether it’s £2 for some eggs, or £25 for a whole box, or even just a note of support – everyone can chip in and together we will make a real difference to the nurses, doctors and all the other NHS support staff keeping us all safe at this most difficult time.
A special thanks to all the local businesses and volunteers who have worked so hard to bring this idea to life. You have brought much needed smiles, joy and good food to our wonderful NHS staff. Thanks especially to:
Tony at Provender Delicatessen
Shai at Mont58Coffee
Nilou at Jumping Bean London
Nena at Nena Foster Foods
Vicky at Fitness for Mummies
And of course to Julia! x