The BuyThemACoffee_KCH fundraiser was set up on March 23rd.  I have lived in this area for nearly 20 years so I know a lot of people who work at Kings; my eldest son was born there and a number of friends have received essential and sometimes lifesaving treatment from the hospital.

When the pandemic started, I searched to see if there were any local initiatives set up to support Kings during the crisis, and not finding any, I decided to do it myself.  Early on, I was advised to speak to the hospital to find out what support they needed:  King’s was already handling covid patients when we spoke to them – and the management quickly decided that staff wellbeing needed to be an essential part of their response to the crisis.

They centralised all the wellbeing through the hospital boardroom which was set up to serve staff with a growing set of support services: within a week meditation, massage, counselling support, chaplaincy; meal deliveries and food donations were all being centralised through the hubs.

BuyThemACoffee_KCH was lucky enough to speak to the right person on that first Monday and, with overwhelming support from the community and local businesses, we delivered 30 boxes of fruit to stock the wellness hub within 2 days of launch.

Since then we have continued to partner with local businesses to deliver food and supplies to the wellness hubs; whether that partnership has been via fundraising events (e.g. the sale of NHS t-shirts by Hospital Records in Herne Hill; Wine Box Sales by @SalonWineStore in Brixton; Yoga Classes by @taniabrownyoga; gourmet dinners hosted by guest chefs and delivered by 161 Food and Drink) or weekly food orders made for staff visiting the hubs (Ayres Bakery; Suzanne James Catering; Cinnamon Tree Bakery; Smith and Brock; or food donations by the likes of Bermondsey Street Bees, Odyssey; Petitou and countless others.  The generosity and kindness demonstrated is testament to our fabulous community of people and businesses.

At the end of the first week, there were 14 Covid wards at Kings’ peaking at 31 wards during the height of the Pandemic (Easter weekend).  Initially, our fundraiser focused on getting food to the frontline staff who had little time to leave their wards, whether that be delivering groceries for them to take home with them or supplying meals to eat before, during or after shift.

The volume of support from local businesses, charities and fundraisers swelled with the crisis and the wellness hubs were required to handle and distribute thousands of meals each day as well as servicing the hub spaces for a shared space for staff to step away to during their shift.

The wellness hubs are staffed by redeployed King’s staff and volunteers so the learning curve has been steep and challenging, but throughout it all they have kept staff wellbeing at the heart of their intentions and it’s been amazing to see what is possible with the right support from the community and industry.

10 weeks on and there are still over 2,000 staff visiting the wellness hubs every day; there are 5 wellness hubs at Denmark Hill and staff continue to need a place to step away to and the wellness focus is shifting away from delivering to food to the wards to providing a shared space that provides essential staff services and a place to enjoy a socially distanced cup of tea and a doughnut with others.

“Just providing small things for staff like a place to just come and sit has gone a long way in making people feel relaxed. Staff have realised that someone is there for them; that Kings and the community have thought of them. The fact that someone is looking out for them is so appreciated and its now week 9 and they are so grateful that the support has continued.” Khadija E (redeployed non-evasive cardiology staff member working in the wellness hub)

BuyThemACoffee_KCH has now raised over £43,000 and we continue to deliver food to the wellness hubs four times a week. Our plan is to continue supplying food through the end of June if our fundraising allows for it.  We hear that there a desire by King’s to continue this commitment to wellness hubs and staff support informed by the learnings of the crisis.  If there is a positive to this crisis, this feels like one to celebrate.



This article first appeared in SE21, SE22 & SE23 June magazines.