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Our thanks for amazing community donations

Donations We Care team receive in The Zone last delivery July 8 2020.JPG

Kettering General Hospital is saying a sincere and heart-felt thank you to members of the public, companies and charitable organisations that have supported us during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March the hospital has received a staggering 292,196 gifts from more than 100 individual sources – many giving multiple gifts and regular donations.

This month (July) the Trust received its final donation of meals from the Salute the NHS food-pack charity and has wound-down its internal storage facilities for gifts in its recreation hall.

As lockdown has eased - and people have returned to work - we have understandably seen the numbers of donations to KGH reducing. Hence our internal We Care team staff and volunteers – who distributed the donations - have, in most cases, returned to their normal jobs.

Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Executive, Simon Weldon, said: “The outpouring of public support for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic has touched all of us who work within it.

“At Kettering General Hospital one manifestation of this has been the thousands of gifts and messages we have received from individuals, families, groups, businesses and charities.

“Donations have ranged from the small – food and drink, knitted hearts, home-made personal protective equipment - right up to very large donations of thousands of items from big businesses.

“The ages of those involved has included very young children right up to pensioners in their 90s.

“We want to say a heart-felt thank you to each and every person who has supported us through gifts, by sending us messages, or by taking the time each week to clap for us.”

So many gifts gratefully received

Here are some examples of the large donations Kettering General Hospital has received during the pandemic.

  • Food4Heroes – A local scheme delivered 22,400 meals to front line staff between April 6 and May 31
  • Salute the NHS – the national charity delivered 21,858 food packs to the hospital between June 1 and July 8
  • Weetabix of Burton Latimer gave 32,000 items including cereals, protein bars and drinks
  • Avon – of Northampton gave 23,000 items including hand sanitisers, hand cream, foot cream, and lipstick
  • Greggs – of Kettering gave 9,068 treats including cupcakes, gingerbread men and jammy hearts
  • Wilkinsons – regional distribution centre gave us 13,650 Easter Eggs – which were also shared with other NHS and emergency responders locally
  • Alpro – of Burton Latimer gave us 1,742 dairy free items such as soya milk, custard, and various flavoured desserts.
  • Scrubs Up for Northants – 3,000 sets of home-made scrubs made up with a donation from Weetabix to buy the materials.
  • Lycero – office supplies gave us 35 coffee machines and 14,550 coffee pods to go with them

Some examples of smaller donations have included:

  • Individuals – gave us food, drinks, pens, uniform bags, toiletries, hats and items of personal protective equipment.
  • Local artist Cathy Matthews painted fantastic murals on the walls of our We Care café for free
  • Rotary Club of Kettering Huxloe – provided furniture for our We Care cafe
  • DS Smith Sheet Feeding – of Burton Latimer gave us 48 boxes of fruit and vegetables
  • Garley Catering- of Kettering gave us 100 afternoon teas for VE Day on May 8.
  • Weetabix Youth League - donated cotton bags and a microwave, kettle, toaster, and plates and cutlery

A full list of recorded donations will be published on the KGH website.

KGH Chief People Officer, Mark Smith, said: “I want to say a big thank you to all of those individuals, companies and charitable organisations that have supported us.

“I also want to thank all of the Trust’s own staff and volunteers who have worked so hard - and in so many ways - to support each other during the outbreak. A special thank you must go to our We Care Team who quickly and tirelessly distributed these wonderful donations to their colleagues.”

What a difference it has made – Case Study Clifford Ward

Clifford Ward has been one of the hospital’s front-line wards throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Its 27-beds – supported by a 50-strong staff team – have provided around the clock care for Covid-19 patients.

Healthcare assistant Sarah Feakin, has seen first-hand the impact community donations have made on staff morale.

She said: “It was all so amazing. The weekly clap for the NHS, the daily care packages of food and drink, the hand cream for our hands - so sore after so much washing every day, they all played a part.

“People were just so thoughtful – it was quite overwhelming to see just how much they cared for us and about us.”

Staff Nurse Yvonne Rutter, said: “Wearing the personal protective equipment just made you so hot it was great to have all the nice drinks to help you stay hydrated during what were some very tiring days.

“People did everything they could for us. People made little things to stop the masks from hurting our ears because we were wearing those masks all day.

“They made us hand-made scrubs which were cooler underneath our hazmat protective overalls.

“They made us laundry bags so we could take our uniforms home and wash them each day. We were so grateful for all of those things. They all made such a difference.”

Deputy Sister Laura Morgan said: “During the height of Covid it was just so hard for us. You could be wearing a full protection suit, tight high protection mask, and goggles or visor. After you have put them on – with breaks – you were in them for 12 hours.

“Patients – particularly the hard of hearing – can’t lip read and can’t understand what you are saying, which makes communication all the harder, it’s psychologically very hard.

“Having the gifts, the meals and chance to join in with the clap for NHS – with the wonderful police, ambulance and fire service flashing their lights – it just helped to relieve all of that pressure.”

Urgent Care Wards Matron Louise Hyde said: “It could feel quite isolating for us during the peak of the pandemic. We would come in – go through all the precautions – care for our patients and then go home through a hospital that was spookily quieter than normal.

“Seeing all the gifts, the messages, the cards of support, it made it all so much easier. You felt that people were behind you. We have been very, very, grateful for everything people have done for us.”

‘Like a military operation’ – how we distributed your gifts to our teams

KGH set up a We Care Team to support staff and respond to the amazing tidal wave of donations we were given during the pandemic.

We Care Team Leader Jayne Chambers, worked with a 19-strong team of redeployed staff and volunteers to distribute the gifts.

She said: “We were overwhelmed and humbled by what happened. At a time of national emergency where it could easily have been a case of every person for themselves - instead we had the opposite.

“Our first donation on March 20 was a lorry-load of 2,000 hand-tied bouquets of flowers from Lidl in Northampton delivered by the Knights of Old transport company.

“We were then inundated with phone calls and in the weekend before lockdown began on March 23 we had 5,040 items donated.

“And it just kept coming in – a week later we were up to 28,600 items.

“So I had to secure somewhere where we could store everything because we knew that we had pending deliveries of over 15,000 items including 1,900 loaves of bread, 13,650 Easter Eggs and 18,000 items from Avon.

“So we commandeered our recreation hall to ensure that the donations didn’t impede our normal supply chain deliveries of things like personal protective equipment.”

Soon the recreation hall was stacked high with goods like a miniature warehouse and Jayne had to recruit a team of redeployed staff and volunteer to unload, check, and distribute the donations to all parts of the hospital – including our satellite sites in Corby, Wellingborough and Irthlingborough.

Once we had distributed goods to our staff any excess was not wasted. We arranged with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and British Red Cross for the excess to go to local families in need and to other key workers and schools looking after the children of key workers.

Jayne said: “Hospital staff and volunteers were fantastic throughout what felt at times like a military operation.

“Beyond our own We Care team we also had enormous support from other hospital departments such as IT, catering, housekeeping, portering, security and many other non-clinical departments.

“Our clinical and front-line staff – where most of the donations were targeted – were also extremely grateful and touched by the efforts of all of those individuals and organisations who supported us.

“I heard many comments expressed such as ‘I can’t believe so many people are doing so much for us’. People also said the free treats ‘gave us all something to look forward to’ at the end of hard shifts.”

Donations supported initiatives to help staff mental health during the outbreak

Working conditions during Covid-19 proved difficult for many KGH staff and your donations helped us with that too.

The Trust set up a We Care Café to act as a decompression zone during breaks and after shifts and an Open Office service for more personal and private support.

Many donated items went to support these services directly with food and drink and other gifts distributed through them.

Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Leanne Hackshall, said: “Working during Covid was very – and still is – stressful.

“Staff have been redeployed to new teams. They have had to work in personal protective equipment all of the time, often for the first time.

“This virus and its spread was new to us and very different to other viruses which brought considerable anxieties, particularly for those staff going home to their families.

“Some staff left their family homes to stay on site and help in our response.

 “It has been heart-warming to see that our community was there for us – just as we were, and are, there for them during this very difficult time.

“We have received thousands of messages of appreciation for what we are doing through social media posts, lovely cards and letters, and amazing pictures of things like rainbows drawn by local children – and the children of our own staff.

“We want to thank everyone who has supported us – in whatever way they did – for what they have done. Their gifts and messages have been a very vivid expression of their appreciation for what we do – and in many ways that has been the greatest gift of all.”