Food for heroes

Food for heroes

Around 7,500 staff are visiting the Royal Free Charity Recreation Club shop each week to select food and other essential items which keep them going through this most challenging and unprecedented time of their careers.

The free shop is provided by the Royal Free Charity and benefits from a number of donations from generous local firms.

Kelly Rush, who usually manages the rec club as a gym, swimming pool, studios and hall, has re-purposed the main sports hall into a supermarket and oversees a massive operation which sees the stock room filled and emptied every day.

“We open at 6.30 so staff can come and get what they need during the day, then we close for deliveries, re-opening early evening to catch staff going home or coming on shift.”

Staff are allowed six items on each occasion and can choose from a range of snacks and more substantial food items as well as other basic necessities.

“It has made life easier, saved time standing in queues in market/shops. Being cared for is what the staff need.” Ann, Anticoagulation Deptartment

“Much of the stock is donated by local firms and we are so grateful to them,” said Kelly. “It’s fantastic how the stuff keeps arriving, day after day.”

Donations made to the Royal Free Charity are also used to buy items that staff need but which aren’t included in the deliveries.

“It makes such a difference to someone who has been on the wards all day, rushed off their feet and often having not had much of a break, to be able to come and pick up things they can use to put together a meal at home, rather than having to join a supermarket queue. Or people pop in before a shift to pick up a snack for later, saving them time before work. They are so appreciative.”

“It has really helped me not to go out to the supermarkets to join queues after my long day shift. I am really grateful; so handy.” A&E Nurse

A similar scheme, at Barnet Hospital, provides goods for a further 4,650 frontline workers each week. As one nurse said: “I can’t tell you how much the charity’s support means to us now. Knowing the public are clapping is great but to also get food and necessities at the end of a long, tiring shift is amazing.”

Staff who are self-isolating at home haven’t been forgotten either – working in close co-operation with the hospitals, the charity identifies the most vulnerable and charity volunteers deliver more than 30 food boxes to them each week, each with enough to feed two adults for a week. And ready meals go to staff living in temporary accommodation close to the hospital.

“It is great to have a shop, honestly after work as we nurses are tired, hungry and stressed and we don’t have a time to think about daily shopping. Thank you so much for feeding us. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Many thanks.” Nurse