Two years since Boris Johnson announced the UK's first Covid-19 lockdown, we can now highlight the incredible impact of support provided by the British public through NHS Charities Together's Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

Launched the same day lockdown started, the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal has to date awarded £778,611 to the South Western Ambulance Charity to support ambulance staff, volunteers and South West patients and communities. 

Since the start of the pandemic, we have used funds for a variety of projects, including improving facilities at ambulance stations and providing enhanced equipment to volunteer Community First Responders (CFRs), making an important difference to NHS patients, staff and the local community. 

A few highlights of the initiatives we are funding include; providing 37 new Raizer lifting chairs to volunteer CFRs to support patients who have experienced a non-injury fall; providing 'Crew Welfare Cars' to support front-line staff at all the major hospitals in the region; and providing resources to enhance community education and awareness of public access defibrillators and CPR training to help a person in cardiac arrest as part of the Ambulance Service's Saving Lives Together campaign.  

Funding provided by NHS Charities Together has also facilitated; 

·       Staff resources to support well-being interventions for individuals who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and to improve mental health pathways for patients. 

·       Health and well-being packages, therapies and support networks for staff and volunteers.

·       Internal and external ambulance station enhancements. 

·       Enhanced observation equipment and vehicles for volunteer Community First Responders. 

·       A Clinical Lead for cardiac arrest. 

·       The GoodSAM app used to dispatch available emergency volunteer responders to 'Out of Hospital' cardiac arrests. 

NHS Charities Together launched its Covid-19 Urgent Appeal on 23rd March 2020, raising over £15 million in the first five days and going on to raise over £150 million - the highest amount raised by any fundraiser ever - to support those at the front-line of the coronavirus crisis, as well as those people most at risk from Covid-19. 

Hundreds of thousands of people got behind the campaign, including the incredible Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £39 million walking laps of his garden prior to the creation of the Captain Tom Foundation. Thousands of other supporters - including 6 year old Frank Mills and 3 year old Daisy Briggs, who both live with spina bifida - made personal sacrifices to raise funds in their own unique ways, from walking and running, to sky diving, dancing and baking. 

High-profile celebrities got involved too, including NHS Charities Together Charity Champion Jordan Henderson, who coordinated Premier League footballers to fundraise for the NHS via the #PlayersTogether initiative, and Joe Wicks who donated proceeds from his amazing efforts to get the nation exercising at home.

Thanks to this generous support, vital funds were distributed to every NHS Trust and Health Board in the UK via NHS Charities Together’s network of 238 NHS charities. To date the charity has allocated an incredible £143 million – making a vital difference during the most challenging time in NHS history. This includes funding more than 400 projects dedicated to NHS staff, including counselling, helplines, and specialist psychological support, and over 700 community partnership projects to tackle health inequalities and prevent ill health in the community.

Zoe Larter, Head of Charity at the South Western Ambulance Charity said: “We are incredibly grateful to NHS Charities Together for their support and funding through their Covid-19 Appeal. The difference the funding has made has been instrumental in helping us to meet the changing needs of our staff, volunteers and patients during an exceptionally challenging time.

For example, thanks to support from the NHS Charities Together funding, a dedicated Senior Mental Health Lead is now in post at the South Western Ambulance Service, working to improve services for mental health patients, helping to tackle an expected 30% rise in mental health issues due to the impact of the pandemic”.  

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “The NHS can't face every challenge alone and we are so grateful for the British public’s support, which enabled us to help the NHS go further at this challenging time. Thanks to this generosity we’ve been able to fund hundreds of incredible projects providing emotional and practical help for staff, volunteers and patients.

“It’s wonderful to see the impact these projects are now having, but the NHS will continue to need our support now and in the long term, as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt both by staff and the inevitable backlog of patients needing treatment. Our message is that we are here for you all, whatever it takes.”

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