On the 19th of March 2020, we had a personal appeal from a nurse at St George’s Hospital. In her appeal, she asked for a box of biscuits or chocolates the nurses could snack on to help boost morale. Within 24 hours, she had amassed three large bin bags full of cookies and cakes. That’s when we spoke to her and said that we would try and help provide some food – other than sweets! There is a book now out to depict the story “The inspiring story of a COVID nurse on the frontline.
So much has happened since then – it’s difficult to put into words as we have been inundated by so much community support and kindness – but most importantly, we were able to deliver meals to exhausted frontline staff who weren’t able to buy provisions at Supermarkets, or who were just too physically or emotionally exhausted to think about cooking a meal.
Over the last few years, we extended our reach to include the distribution of meals and food to those more vulnerable members of the community who have been adversely affected by the pandemic or who needed out support.
We have run numerous fundraising events and enjoyed the support of local celebrities who helped deliver food and raise our profile – Guy Henry (Holby City), Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Thomas Frake (Masterchef Champion 2020), and Imogen Thomas (Welsh Model).
We were also able to further support NHS staff with much needed PPE when supplies dwindled, had tablets donated to ICU wards which allowed patients to see loved ones, developed bespoke name-labels so hospital staff could identify each other behind their layers of protective clothing, delivered goody bags to boost morale, and early on (when Supermarket shelves were bare) supplied basic foods stuffs like pasta, milk, bread, eggs, sanitary goods and even toilet roll!
To date, with your help, Critical Support has raised over £600,000 from public/private donations, which has allowed us to co-ordinate and deliver over 300,000 meals to front line staff at 23 hospitals and numerous community initiatives, whilst providing a much-needed lifeline to many local businesses who may otherwise have ceased trading.
I should add that number of our core team are affiliated to Battersea Ironsides Sports Club (through junior rugby) and have supported us with their personal commitment and expertise from the outset; and Jus Fine Food, who have been instrumental in helping set up our support of the homeless and vulnerable. We have also worked alongside a number of local initiatives including Home Cook Army (who helped deliver meals direct to the elderly and vulnerable across SW London), South London Scrubbers (who helped supply home sewn scrubs to staff at St George’s, King’s College and Lewisham hospitals), Old Wimbledonians RFC (who we helped fund 20,213 meals for NHS staff at Kingston and Teddington Hospitals), Food4Heroes (who we helped fund meals to Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath) and Hospitality for Heroes (who we helped fund 60,000 meals to NHS, Age UK and NHS Prison Staff).