Can you tell us a bit about what you have been up to?
It all started only two weeks ago. I had volunteered to do a grocery shop for a local paramedic, but when I got to the supermarket it was packed full of NHS staff and there was almost nothing left to buy. I usually do delivery work with Stuart 7 days a week (I’m obsessed!), so I thought there must be a way to combine my normal day-to-day life with helping my local community through this health crisis.
I started by delivering groceries to local people who I knew were self-isolating. Word spread and within a few days I was in contact with a number of Lewisham residents and the local hospital… I gathered a team and we set up a community hub to organise donations. The story got some press (suddenly a journalist from New York was calling me!) and next thing we knew we were inundated with donations of groceries, toiletries, you name it, and getting calls from all sorts of people wanting to help out. I reached out to some fellow couriers for help collecting donations from all over London. We’re now supplying around 550 NHS staff members!
We’ve also managed to raise over £10,000 on our Gofundme page which means we will be launching a free food-box delivery service to any NHS Lewisham worker in acute financial distress. And we’re in contact with over two dozen acutely vulnerable people, who are all so grateful for the amazing new community that has come together and mobilised so quickly to help each other out. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks!
Where do your supplies come from?
The local community has been amazing at organising through Facebook. Whenever stocks run low, they are replenished in a matter of hours by local people and businesses wanting to donate. I keep sending my team that Jaws clip where it goes “You’re going to need a bigger boat!”
What made you want to start this project?
I guess it’s in my blood — my mum has been working with a hospital in the Gambia called Bansang Hospital for over 25 years. She founded the Bansang Hospital Appeal in 1992 to raise money to invest in the hospital. Through fundraisers back in the UK, she helped set up a brand new children’s unit and contributed to the refurbishment of some of the wards and operating theatres. I’m extremely proud of her — she was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to healthcare.
At times like these, I can’t imagine what the hospital there must be going through, they have virtually no ventilators and are in desperate need of funds. What we’re doing here is great but she has genuinely dedicated her whole life to improving healthcare for those who need it.
When did you start working with Stuart?
I started in October 2018. As I said I’m addicted — I find riding around on my bike all day so peaceful and therapeutic. When I’m not doing delivery work I help my mum out with digital communications for her hospital. To be honest I can’t believe that last week I was delivering Nando’s and now I’m coordinating grocery supplies for the whole of Lewisham!