As the pandemic sweeps the UK, a group of four friends mostly from north London are feeding over 1,200 NHS workers every day through a network of 70 volunteer delivery drivers and 10 chefs.
They are Katie Icklow, 45, from Borehamwood, Sarah Laster, 39, from Radlett, Jackie Commissar, 69 originally from Casares in Spain, all of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue, and David Benveniste, 49, from Bushey and of Stanmore United shul.
The foursome, whose initiative was promoted on Twitter on Wednesday by TV judge Robert Rinder, have recruited hundreds of volunteers across London and Hertfordshire, and their Facebook group “You Donate…..we deliver” has garnered close to 2,000 followers.
The say the weekly cost of the initiative totals £17,000 and have raised £47,947 of their £200,000 target since launching a campaign on the crowdfunding platform Go Fund Me last month.
The group are now collecting more funds to purchase ingredients, food containers and other items needed by hospitals, such as pillows.“We are desperately in need of some very large cash donations to keep this operation going,” Laster, a secretary, told Jewish News on Wednesday.
She was inspired to set up the initiative after her sister, a senior registrar in A&E, described how she struggled to find the time to prepare food or buy readymade meals during shifts.”Katie and Jackie have a friend that’s at Northwick Park Hospital, and we heard that they were finding it very difficult to get off the ward once they’re on the ward, and that’s how it started,” she added.
The group have received outpourings of support and donations from volunteers and businesses, including from the costume hire shop Angels Fancy Dress, which donated over 150 sets of scrubs last week. “It’s been very humbling for us to see the generosity and the way the community has responded because everybody that comes says ‘it’s amazing what you’re doing and it really helps me to feel like I’m playing a part and to see the community come together like that’,” Laster said.
“We’ve made amazing relationships with the people in the hospitals, and when we receive those phone calls where the staff are crying because it’s making such a big difference you realise what a difference a community rallying together can really make,” she added.