What the Royal Free London means to me and why I’m recruiting a network of champions

Judy Dewinter, chair, Royal Free CharityJudy Dewinter, chair of the Royal Free Charity’s board of trustees, blogs about her motivation for leading the charity and explains why she’s recruiting a network of champions for our Breaking Point fundraising appeal.

As we head into what is inevitably going to be a challenging winter for the NHS and for patients, I’d like to share my thoughts as chair of the Royal Free Charity, which supports the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

I’m often asked why I wanted to lead the Royal Free Charity as its chair. The answer is that I owe so much to the Royal Free London NHS Trust. The skill and expertise of the clinicians who oversaw my two bone marrow transplants has helped me survive my blood cancer, myeloma.

I started treatment for myeloma in 2003. Until then, my career was in financial services. I worked for the first global electronic brokerage firm, which was way ahead of its time. We were doing something that nobody else was doing – changing the landscape dramatically – and that really opened my eyes to what is possible if you have a clear goal and stay focused on achieving it. This has been a driving force in my choices of roles and organisations that I’ve had the privilege to be associated with ever since.

As a patient, I saw at first hand the brilliance of the team at the Royal Free Hospital, but I also saw the challenges. This led me to serve as a governor of the Royal Free for nine years and then to my current role as chair of the Royal Free Charity. I am acutely aware of the huge difference and the huge benefit that additional financial support can provide and that is why I am reaching out today.

None of us predicted how much the health and wellbeing needs of NHS staff would change and escalate to the extent that they have as a result of the pandemic. We have seen highly skilled staff being challenged on a professional but also on a human level in a way that has never been seen before. Waiting lists are longer, impacting on the health and well-being of patients, and we are seeing many people living with long Covid and the challenges that brings to their daily lives.

The Royal Free Charity’s strong partnership with the Royal Free London and its three hospitals, Barnet, Chase Farm and the Royal Free puts us in a unique position, being on the inside and ‘in the room’ so to speak. We can see what’s needed and we can respond quickly. And we take our role seriously; we have a responsibility to our donors to ensure the best use of their support.

Unsurprisingly, given how the NHS is funded, people often ask why a hospital charity needs to exist. The reality is that government funding for the NHS only goes so far and cannot possibly provide for, and respond to, every need.  We can help fill that gap – we can help the Royal Free hospitals move further and faster, by strategically investing in projects in a way that NHS funding can’t do alone.

That’s where our Breaking Point fundraising appeal comes in: we can help speed up the trust’s recovery from the pandemic, from bolstering the wellbeing and resilience of employees, to speeding up research into Long Covid and investment in their digital transformation programme. We’re responding to their needs in precisely the way they need it most – and right now.

As part of our Breaking Point appeal, we are launching a match-funded campaign in November. We are looking for ambassadors to help spread the word and I am appealing to those of you who can help us to do this at this critical time.

It’s a simple ask that could make a huge difference.

Please consider becoming a champion – all we ask is that you help spread the word amongst your networks.

To find out more, or to sign up to become a champion, please contact our project lead Jo McGuinness on  [email protected].

Thank you