Hampers for Heroes: doctor’s plea inspires thousands of donations to NHS staff

Victoria Hanson holding a box of donations
The Canary

A social enterprise is delivering thousands of pounds’ worth of treats to help lift the spirits of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, inspired by one doctor’s emotional appeal for support.

Big donations

Hampers for Heroes, which is run by Victoria Hanson, 44, a management consultant from Solihull, has delivered supplies to more than 20,000 health and social care staff in the region since the pandemic began.

A further £7,000 has already been raised since the latest appeal in January to support ICU staff, along with “huge amounts of physical donations” from the community.

Victoria Hanson
Victoria Hanson with some donated items (Handout/PA)

She said:

This appeal is really about ICU staff. It’s trying to think through in priority terms who are the worst affected in terms of their wellbeing and mental health.

We want to keep supporting NHS and key workers with the mental health toll, which we all know is going to be significant. We can all see on TV the strain on ICU staff, and having to deal with death at that kind of level every day is just horrendous, frankly.

“Exhausted”

In January, the Hampers for Heroes Facebook group shared a message it had received from an anonymous ICU doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham asking for help keeping coffee rooms stocked and putting together wellbeing packs for staff.

The doctor told Hanson staff were “exhausted”, adding:

This has been going on since March and there hasn’t really been any reprieve. We have already lost a lot of staff to burnout, and yet it is still not over. I normally love my job and what I do, so to run out of the hospital and drive home in floods of tears is unusual for me, and sadly it was not just me like this. We need help now, not in six months’ time.

The resulting support from members of the public has allowed Hampers For Heroes to make numerous deliveries in recent weeks to intensive care units and coronavirus wards, including toiletries, hairdryers, drinks, and brownies.

Lockdown one

Hanson set up the community interest company during the first lockdown of 2020, gathering donations of hand creams to deliver to exhausted nurses.

Throughout the pandemic she has juggled her consulting work with Hampers For Heroes, working seven-day weeks while looking after four children – but maintains her motivation to help key workers.

I just think we’re in a time when we have to pull together and as a community, try and provide that (support), and that’s fine by me, and that’s fine by all of the volunteers. I’ve never had such a clear focus and purpose in my work.

To read more about Hampers for Heroes, and for information on how to donate, visit hampersforheroes.net

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