From organising drop-offs of donated goods to packing food parcels for delivery to those in need, staff from Spire Leeds Hospital are volunteering their time at their local Leeds North and West Food Bank in the run up to Christmas to make sure local children and families don’t go hungry.
Spire staff are lending a helping hand every Friday until Christmas with volunteers working in shifts through the day. Among the first to volunteer was Tabs Chaudhary, a bookings co-ordinator at Spire. She said:
“We are living in unprecedented times with the devastating effect of Coronavirus and I’ve never seen so many people suffering the impact and struggling for work in the Leeds area. It feels good to be able do something that has a positive impact on our local community.”
Hunger is not just a third world problem. One in five of the UK population live below the poverty line, and it can happen at a local level too. A sudden change in circumstances such as a family break up, illness, an accident and even lay-offs due to lockdown can result in people being unable to feed themselves and their family.
The need for Food Banks has increased dramatically during the Coronavirus pandemic with Leeds seeing an increase in demand in recent months as more and more families are forced to seek help. The Centre is currently operating a delivery-only model to protect volunteers, staff and those who need food support.
Volunteer, Katie Alston, a governance administrator at Spire said:
“I’m happy to help provide this vital service supplying emergency food parcels for those in short term need. The logistics involved in getting the food parcels out to those who need them are quite complex and The Food Bank is extremely well organised. It’s comforting to know that this organisation is helping families in these times of crisis.”
Karen Burgon, project director, Leeds North and West Food Bank, part of Trussell Trust Food Banks located across the UK, said they experienced an 83% increase in demand after the first lockdown started in March and another surge in demand in August. The centre is gearing up for further increase in demand when the current government furlough scheme ends. Karen said:
“We’ve also seen an increase in people turning to food banks for the first time as the impact of the second lockdown means families that haven’t been vulnerable in the past are finding themselves in this situation.
“It’s good to have more hands on deck, particularly in the run up to Christmas. We could not operate without our passionate and inspiring volunteers who give up their precious time to help people in a crisis. They are the lifeblood of the Food Bank. Storing, packing and delivering the food parcels across the Leeds region takes a huge amount of co-ordination and our volunteers help make that happen.”
Food given out by the Foodbank is donated by local schools, churches, businesses, individuals and supermarket collections. The centre regularly gives out more than 100 parcels a week containing a three-day supply, which can include everything from canned goods to toilet rolls, toothpaste and deodorant. The past 12 weeks has seen the facility delivering 1,234 parcels feeding 2,729 people of which 1,015 were children.
This forms part of a Spire-wide initiative taking place throughout December to support the Trussell Trust food banks nationwide. Spire Healthcare’s 39 hospitals across the UK are being challenged to raise £250 amongst colleagues. Spire Healthcare will then match donations in each site up to £250. Spire is working in partnership with their food supplier Bidfood who have pledged to boost the donations in food value. All funds raised will be donated to Trussell Trust before Christmas.
It’s not the first time Spire Leeds Hospital staff have stepped up to the plate. Earlier this year, they completed a challenge to collect enough food items to fill a 200-year-old, 8-metre-high staircase at the Hospital which were then donated to the Food Bank. Further initiatives to raise additional funds for the facility are also planned.
Spire Healthcare is a leading independent hospital group in the United Kingdom, with 39 private hospitals and eight clinics across England, Wales and Scotland. Working in partnership with around 7,300 experienced consultants, Spire Healthcare delivered tailored, personalised care to approximately 810,000 in-patients and daycase patients in 2019, and is the leading private provider, by volume, of knee and hip operations in the United Kingdom.
The Group’s well located and scalable hospitals have delivered successful and award-winning clinical outcomes, positioning the Group well with patients, consultants, the NHS, GPs and Private Medical Insurance (“PMI”) providers. 88% of Spire Healthcare’s hospitals are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC (or the equivalent in Scotland and Wales).
On 21 March 2020, Spire Healthcare signed Heads of Terms with NHS England to make its facilities and services available to the NHS and its patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For more information on how to donate to the foodbank or receive help from Leeds foodbanks, visit: www.leedsnorthandwest.foodbank.org.uk and click on ‘Give Help’.
For further information please visit: www.spirehealthcare.com/leeds