More than £250,000 has been raised to help provide free hot meals for NHS staff, less than seven days after a campaign was launched by a small group of friends.
Meals for the NHS was just an idea last Sunday evening but has since provided 4,000 meals to hospitals with tens of thousands more expected soon.
“We were talking about how a group of friends who are NHS workers are just not eating properly,” Andrew Muir Wood, one of the founders, told the PA news agency.
The campaign says workers are faced with canteens that shut at 5pm, and a surgeon from a Covid-19 intensive care unit told the group on Monday: “At weekends, overnight and evenings there is virtually nothing to eat except a crap vending machine with crisps and chocolate. Seriously.”
“It’s hard for anyone to operate on an empty stomach let alone people trying to save lives, so we got together trying to work out how we could solve that,” Mr Muir Wood added.
Co-ordinating their work online amid the UK lockdown, the friends came up with the idea to send meals from local food makers into hospitals.
The group initially invested their own money to provide the meals – contributing around £2,000 between five people.
“It was a bit of a gamble at the start of the week but by Wednesday we had enough public support to cover the cost then it spiralled from there – it’s been crazy,” said Mr Muir Wood.
After sharing the campaign with family and friends, the initiative then began to spread on social media and has proved a huge hit.
“It was being shared by the NHS workers as well, who have been hugely appreciative of these meals,” said Mr Muir Wood.
“For them to know there will be a hot meal waiting for them at a specific time, and to know that meal has been provided by the public, is a huge morale boost and lets them see a ray of light at a dark time for them.”
The co-founder said they expect the cost per meal, around £5 or £6 at the moment, to reduce as the campaign grows, meaning the £250,000 raised so far will go “a really long way”.
If you would like to support the campaign, visit mealsforthenhs.com or search for the hashtags #FeedTheNHS or #FeedTheHeroes on social media.