Covid-19 Urgent Appeal Q&As

1. What is the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal? 

The Covid-19 Urgent Appeal was launched by NHS Charities Together in March to acknowledge and support NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by Covid-19 across the country. The campaign was put together in liaison with health bodies, NHS Charities Together member charities and national giving platforms. 

The money raised is funding grants to help NHS charities support NHS staff, volunteers and patients in ways above and beyond what NHS funding can ordinarily provide, from meeting immediate and urgent needs to supporting the long term recovery from the impact of the crisis.  

2. How is the money you have raised going to be spent? 

Seeing the profound impact the Covid crisis was having on our health service, we worked quickly with our member charities, health bodies and other national organisations to launch an appeal to acknowledge and support NHS staff, volunteers and patients. 

The response from the public has been overwhelming and the money raised is being used right now by NHS charities to support staff, volunteers and patients as they combat the virus. 

The initial wave of funding has been used to meet the immediate and urgent needs of staff, volunteers and patients – providing somewhere comfortable so they can take a break, nutritious food and drink, use of electronic-tablets so patients, staff and volunteers can stay in contact with loved ones, counselling support to protect mental health and help staff and volunteers process what they are dealing with. 

The virus is having a profound impact on every aspect of our communities and NHS charities are widening the scope of the support they are providing, to help vital partnerships outside hospitals, such as hospices, community healthcare and social care, making sure patients returning home have access to the care they need to recover.   

We are also working with our members to identify where additional support is most urgently needed by NHS staff, volunteers and patients in their area, with a particular focus on support for people who are disproportionately affected by the Covid crisis, such as patients and staff from the BAME communities and high-risk groups like those living with disabilities. 

In the longer term the money we have raised will also fund programmes to help staff and families recover fully once the crisis has abated, reducing the long-term impact on them and the people they care about. 

3. What is NHS Charities Together? 

NHS Charities Together is the umbrella organisation for the country’s NHS charities and is the official national charity partner of the NHS with more than 230 NHS Charity members. NHS charities are the legal way the NHS receives, holds and spends charitable funds and are dedicated to supporting the NHS. They exist for the benefit of current and future NHS patients. NHS Charities Together is the national membership organisation that individual charities belong to. 

NHS Charities Together supports and champions its members and is the ‘trading name’ or ‘known as name’ of the Association of NHS Charities. Founded in 2000, the Association began as an informal group of the largest NHS Charities which came together to provide mutual support. In 2008 in the Association become a registered charity and invited all NHS Charities to share the benefits of membership. We became an incorporate charity in 2019. 

4. What do NHS Charities do? 

NHS Charities give over £1 million every day for the NHS so that people can stay well for longer and get better faster. Most of them focus on helping our health services to do more. From supporting research and development, to brightening up hospital environments, to donating state-of-the-art technologies and equipment, the charities raise funds and mobilise volunteers, touching lives and making a huge difference to millions of people when they are at their most vulnerable. Other NHS charities support mental health trusts, community health trusts and ambulance trusts.  

NHS Charities have a legal or formal agreement with their NHS Trust and therefore have a particular focus whereby they specifically fund activity that supports NHS patients directly. They might work with a particular hospital or NHS trust – either way you know your donations are going to help the NHS patients. 

5. How will funds raised by the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal be distributed among member NHS Charities? 

NHS Charities are the legal way in which each NHS Trust or Health Board can raise, manage and distribute charitable funds. Grant awards will be made to NHS Charities to enable them to provide direct financial support into their NHS Trust/Health Board Hospitals and services. Grants are being disbursed through distributions to NHS Charities in the following ways: 

  • COVID-19 Urgent response grants 
  • Social Care Partnership Grants
  • Recovery Grants 

An initial substantial grant was made equally to each NHS Charity and the next round of grants have been made to NHS Charities based on the number of NHS employees (head count) within each corresponding Trust/ Health Board.  This means that the grant amounts are distributed in a fair and equitable way across larger and smaller Trusts/Health Boards.  

NHS Charities Together has distributed an initial grant of £35k to all of its members. That membership has increased from 140 charities when the appeal launched on 23rd March to over 220 now, and each new member has been sent that initial grant. 

NHS Charities Together has also sent out a second wave of grants, this time based on £7 per staff member in the NHS trust or trusts each of its member charities supports. As a result, it has handed out £20m so far and another £10m is currently available to NHS charities through the current grant round.  

Here’s a list of some of the grants we have made so far to NHS charities across the UK: 

  • £315,000 to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Endowments 
  • £112,000 to Western HSC Trust in Northern Ireland 
  • £164,500 to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – Awyr Las Charity in Wales 
  • £182,000 to University Hospitals Birmingham Charity 
  • £196,000 to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Charity 
  • £140,000 to Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity 
  • £105,000 to Frimley Health Charity in Surrey 
  • £150,500 to Barts Charity in London
  • £105,000 to Above and Beyond in Bristol 
  • £115,000 to Imperial Health Charity in London 
  • £119,000 to Southampton Hospitals Charity 
  • £161,000 to Leeds Cares 
  • £105,000 to Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity
  • £147,000 to Nottingham Hospitals Charity

6. What is the focus for the current round of funding? 

 For the £10 million of funding currently available, we have asked all our members to submit applications for the additional support they feel is most urgently needed by NHS staff, volunteers and patients in their area, with a particular focus on support for people who are disproportionately affected by the Covid crisis, such as patients and staff from the BAME communities and other groups including those living with disabilities. That funding is now being distributed to NHS charities and will continue to go out to them through July and August.  

As the recent report by Public Health England made starkly clear, people from BAME backgrounds are being particularly hard hit by Covid-19.  NHS England figures in June showed that hospital deaths per 100,000 among British people of a black Caribbean background were three times the equivalent number among the white British population. NHS staff and volunteers of colour are at greater risk than their colleagues and we are working with our members to identify how we can get additional support to them to counter that.  

We are also just beginning to see the impact of this crisis on the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers. Their resilience throughout the crisis has been remarkable, but what they have had to deal with on behalf of all of us will leave a mark.   

In a poll conducted in April, half of healthcare workers said that their mental health had dropped since the virus began taking its toll. 71% of younger health professionals, who are likely to be inexperienced and early in their careers, said their mental health had deteriorated.  

In another survey of 3,500 nurses, commissioned by Nursing Times, almost all nursing staff are feeling more stressed and anxious than usual: 87% of respondents rated themselves as either “a lot” or “a little” more stressed at work than usual, while 90% said they were “a lot” or “a little” more anxious than before the outbreak. Over 50% described themselves as “a lot” more anxious or stressed than usual.  

As a result, we are putting a real focus on ways NHS charities can help staff to improve their mental health and wellbeing, and we are already seeing tangible results with the creation of wellbeing rooms within hospitals, places where staff can get away from the stresses of the job and properly switch off.  Our members are also examining how they can provide longer term support through investing in helplines, ensuring there are mental health first aiders available to as many staff as possible and increasing access to talking therapies and longer-term support.  We cannot allow the mental health of NHS staff and volunteers, the people who have been there for us throughout the crisis, to be a long-term casualty. 

7. How long should it take for charities to receive funds raised? 

Fundraising pledges made through online donation platforms (Virgin Money Giving, Just Giving etc) can take up to a week or more to appear as cleared funds for the appeal.  These donations are then brought across to NHS Charities Together COVID-19 appeal bank account.  Grants are then authorised regularly, which triggers a payment of grant funds into each NHS member charity bank account.  This deposit transfer takes 2 working days. The NHS charity is then able to use these funds to best support their Trust’s/Health Board’s response to COVID-19. 

8. Are these charities just propping up the NHS? 

No, but they do help the NHS do much more than they otherwise could. People have been giving money to health services since well before the NHS was created. They help the health service provide treatments and services they would not otherwise be able to fund. These help improve the wellbeing of patients and save lives. They also support NHS staff and volunteers. 

9. Shouldn’t these funds be used to equip NHS staff and volunteers with the medical equipment they need to do their job, such as ventilators and PPE? 

The money raised through the appeal is currently focused on funding grants to help NHS charities support the health and emotional wellbeing of NHS staff, volunteer and patients in ways above and beyond that which NHS funding can usually provide. Elements such as PPE or ventilators are part of the core operation of the NHS and are ordinarily funded by government.  

Each NHS charity is there to support their NHS trust or health board and to respond to what they and their staff, volunteers and patients need on an ongoing basis. As this crisis develops, there is no doubt those needs will change and NHS charities will continue to respond to that and try to meet those needs. Currently, the focus of our member charities is on the immediate and long term needs of staff, volunteers and patients outside of core care and treatment, including setting up comfortable places where they can take a much-needed rest, giving them nutritious meals and drinks, offering mental health support, and helping staff and the patients themselves to stay in touch with their loved ones. 

10. How much of the money raised gets to the people on the ground? 

NHS Charities Together is a small charity and we have put in place the infrastructure and resource we need to manage funding of this scale. Our focus for the appeal is on raising funds and getting them to our member charities as effectively and efficiently as possible, so they can then be used to support NHS trusts, their staff, volunteers and patients. We invest the time and resource we need to help us do that and monitor that investment. You can find out more about the impact NHS charities have here

11. Can I give money directly to the NHS? 

NHS charities are the legal way the NHS receives, holds and spends charitable funds and are dedicated to supporting the NHS. They exist for the benefit of current and future NHS patients. 

So, the most effective way to financially support the NHS, its staff, volunteers and patients at the moment is through the NHS charities who already provide that support. You can donate via the appeal or you can give a donation directly to the NHS charity in your local area. 

12. Where can I find your member charities? 

All our members are listed at this link. You can also search for a particular charity name, by name of the hospital, or by region. We are adding new charities every day so if your local NHS charity isn’t there, do check with them to see if they are a member. 

13. Will the money raised go towards helping health services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as England? 

NHS Charities Together has member charities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as well as in England, and funds have been distributed to members in all four nations.   

14. Do you have a logo that we could use when we fundraise for you, and some information on your charity that you can share with us? 

We have put together fundraising packs that give you everything you need to fundraise in aid of our appeal. You can download the pack for fundraisers here and the corporate fundraising pack here.