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West Suffolk Hospital charity's 'massive thank you' for community support through coronavirus crisis

West Suffolk College and Suffolk Police CadetsA hospital charity has issued a ‘massive thank you’ to the community for their ‘overwhelming’ generosity to support staff and patients during the coronavirus crisis.

My WiSH which helps West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust launched its Help Your NHS Hospital appeal in March which has generated £121,000.

The sum includes £70,000 from NHS Charities Together and is being spent on an array of initiatives for West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, and Newmarket Community Hospital.

As well as financial contributions, the community has made ear savers, scrubs and knitted hearts and donated items such as hand creams, shampoos and chocolates.

Sue Smith, head of fund-raising for My WiSH, said: “With people being out of work, furloughed and literally not having that disposable income, I didn’t have a clue how it was going to go.

“I was and still am absolutely bowled over and overwhelmed with the response of how deep people have dug to support staff and patients.”

She praised fund-saisers for 'thinking outside the box' including marathon runner Ben Blowes, who completed 50 miles around the front garden of his Gazely home.

Among projects to benefit were the introduction of four calm rooms at West Suffolk Hospital to provide staff a space to relax.

“Yes staff have staff rooms but that isn’t the same thing as a calm room,” Sue said. “They’re just a space where two or three members of staff can go.

“There’s mood lighting, they’re not allowed to talk Covid. They can go and take time out to regroup and if they’ve just witnessed something and need to have minute to have a cry or anything they need to make them feel better. There’s information in those rooms to signpost them to other places if they need the help.

The feedback from staff has been amazing. That’s something we’re going to try and look to do as a charity to take forward in the future to have permanent places like this.”

A calm room was due to be opened at Newmarket Hospital this week.

My WiSH has ordered furniture to help transform a meeting room into a staff/calm room on West Suffolk’s G4 ward. It followed a request from ward manager Rosie Cawston.

“They’re so far away from any type of amenities,” Sue said. “Staff are absolutely delighted. That’s the thing people on the outside don’t see, the impact of something so simple.”

Patients who are isolated have received puzzle sheets, crosswords and colouring pencils and sheets.

Welfare packs filled with essential items and food have also been handed out to staff which provided a boost for those faced with empty supermarket shelves after working long shifts.

The charity bought nine TVs with DVD players for patients in the side rooms at Newmarket and Gatehouse also supplied DVDs.

Patients at Newmarket have received arts and crafts including paint by numbers, paints and canvases, card making kits and two Amazon Fire tablets. Two parasols and stands were bought for the hospital courtyard.

Meanwhile, champion jockey Frankie Dettori delivered 1,000 bottles of wellness hydration drink iPRO to Newmarket Hospital. He is a shareholder in iPRO.

Sue highlighted the ‘phenomenal’ work of the Sew Scrubs for West Suffolk Hospital group.

Launched by Amanda Poole and her mum Karen Tate, the Facebook group saw volunteers produce about 1,000 sets of scrubs. My WiSH paid nearly £5,000 for the fabric to make the scrubs.

“The money isn’t just for the here and now, it’s for the tomorrow supporting staff going forward,” Sue said.

“When they’re very lonely, tired and emotional, it makes them realise that people care.

“Be it a bottle of water, be it a treatment, it just shows they’re cared for and in those really dark moments that makes a huge difference.

“What the community has done has shown them a massive thank you.

“The claps on the Thursday night were incredible but this has shown applause 24/7 and a massive thank you to everyone. It’s a round of applause back to them.”

Written by Paul Derrick


Charity Registration Number:1049223