Demonstrating resilience and creativity, not to mention their big-hearted Hospitality Spirit, our incredible industry has gone above and beyond to support those in need within their local communities. For this 2020 International Nurses Day, we spoke to a few hospitality businesses and initiatives that are working to support NHS workers during this difficult time.
Some companies decided to directly use their facilities, while others came together as collectives to provide much needed and appreciated help for hospital employees.
Manorview Hotels in Scotland made bedrooms available for NHS teams on the front line, and for acute services team members who needed to isolate, all at no charge.
Opening doors and doing the right thing
“On the morning of Tuesday 17th March, we decided we had to take control of the situation and close our venues to protect our teams, customers & communities,” explained David Tracey, MD of the Manorview Group. “At that point we committed to the team that we would do all we can to avoid redundancies and also offer our hotel bedrooms to our communities, specifically the NHS team working on the front line.”
Manorview communicated the offer of free accommodation directly to the public using their marketing channels. “Since the beginning of the crisis, the company agreed to do the right thing and this was our way of using our assets to keep a crucial workforce safe, while also protecting their families at home,” David said.
Though there has been no cost to individuals, Manorview have not received funding or government assistance. With the group providing over 2000 room nights so far, with each person staying for an average of two weeks, Manorview has been able to assist in the region of 150 families.
Hospitality Spirit in action
Mike Gardner from Recruitment consultancy, Appetite4work has been especially impressed by how competitors have come together for a common cause. “What has been great to see is competitive walls coming down and everyone working together,” he said. “The project, Surrey Drive has been put together by Surrey Event Professionals which is a collective of Surrey’s caterers and event suppliers dedicated to helping the NHS during the crisis.”
Surrey Drive is the brainchild Steve Page and Hannah Sheppard who head a local networking group consisting of over 100 of Surrey’s finest event experts. “After seeing the heart-breaking stories of NHS workers unable to buy food at this critical time, we knew we had to step in and help,” Hannah explained. “With a large professional group of event caterers to hand, we knew we could supply meals on mass giving the frontline heroes at the Royal Surrey County Hospital access to a nutritious, immune boosting meal.”
The Surrey Drive Campaign has continued to deliver premade meals and packed lunches to the NHS staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital Trust of which there are 4,800 staff both located in the hospital and in the community. “Funds raised through the campaign’s fundraising page, PayPal and the Royal Surrey Charitable Trust fundraising page allows the project to pay for produce and packaging of the meals,” Hannah said. “All organisers, equipment, caterers, drivers etc are working as volunteers and have gifted their time, and equipment such as catering fridges, freezers, trailers and microwaves have been donated.”
In the first two weeks of their campaign, Surrey Drive delivered meals into the Royal Surrey and focused on delivering meals to all frontline staff working in COVID-19 areas. They delivered 1,246 meals in week one and increased to 2,000 in week two. By week four, they were delivering over 4,400 meals a week. They have also furthered their reach to other hospitals and health centres; Haslemere Hospital, Milford CCC (Community Co-ordination Centre), The Jarvis Centre (Guildford), Cranleigh GP Centre, Binscombe GP Centre, The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and the Holiday Inn, Guildford where some NHS staff have been staying.
Safety is paramount
With any project of this scale, embedded in this kind of circumstance, careful planning must be adhered to. “The safety of the team has been paramount,” said David Tracey. “We have comprehensive procedures and risk assessments in place to protect the Manorview team and all guests.
Manorview are providing bedrooms but without room service from the hotel team. “We provide access to fresh linen, towels and other room amenities for each guest to take at their leisure,” David explained further. “When a guest departs we leave the room for a safe period of time before turning it around for the next guest. The operation has been very smooth & efficient, all credit to our hotel teams.”
An honour to help
David feels the service Manorview is providing to NHS workers is an extension of what they do week in, week out. “Assisting this key group of workers has motivated the team to rise to the challenge,” he said. “They regard it as an honour to be helping the greater cause in our simple way.”
Mike Gardner isn’t surprised by the way hospitality businesses have made this work. “I think the great thing about anyone that works in hospitality is that we are all used to being creative, turning our hands to anything and getting things done,” he said. “Logistics, planning and problem solving have to come naturally as this is what we are faced with every day.”
Nobody knows how longer this situation will continue, so the plan is to keep on keeping on. “As long as there is a need the services will carry on,” Mike Gardner said. “We’re all hoping that hospitals and NHS workers won’t be so over worked as the virus comes under control, but who knows? It’s certainly shone a huge spotlight on the health and welfare of the people who work in the NHS which can only be a good thing.”
Hope and purpose
The Surrey Drive initiative is planning to stay running for as long as the Royal Surrey County Hospital needs it but is dependent on funds raised. “The meals provided to the hospital are far more than just a meal,” Hannah Sheppard said. “It offers support, comfort, a chance to refuel but they also give our volunteers hope, a purpose and a chance to give back in what is a very difficult time for all.”
For David Tracey, the response from NHS staff has been overwhelming. “It’s been humbling,” he said. “The hotel teams have received gifts, cards & thank you messages. It has been inspiring to understand the difference we have made to so many families, simply by allowing our bedrooms to be used. Families are being protected from the worst effects of this virus.”
Even though demand for hotels rooms is beginning to subside, David encouraged any hospitality business wanting to help the medical services. “Hospitality businesses across the country have been finding their way to contribute. Even when their business has effectively ceased trading with no income and no idea of a return to normality, they have still found a way to play their part. How amazing is that?” David enthused. ”Helping NHS workers has given the Manorview team a collective purpose, it has inspired us to come out of this crisis ready to welcome guests back in to our hotels, bars, restaurants & clubs. We’ve discovered that simple small gestures can mean the world to our NHS workers, so my advice would be to keep it simple and help in any way you can.”
Find out more about these amazing companies:
Part of the Surrey Drive project delivering 000’s of meals each week to NHS workers at Royal Surrey Hospital and other Surrey based hospitals.
Again part of the Surrey Drive project delivering packed lunches to the smaller regional NHS centres in Surrey.
Supplying meals on demand for NHS workers who are in isolation across London.