Back in the spring, during the first Covid wave, we decided to put aside a portion of the amazing amount of money that has been donated to our appeal. We saw this as a rainy day fund should a second wave take hold and we needed to provide even more urgent support NHS staff, volunteers and patients caught up in the Covid crisis.
Sadly, with increasing infection rates and rising numbers of people with Covid getting admitted to hospital, that rainy day has come. As a result, we have made a £12m urgent fund available immediately to all NHS charities in areas dealing with a surge in cases and hospital admissions. With £50,000 available for each NHS charity, they can direct the money towards whatever will make the biggest difference for the staff, volunteers and patients they support.
That might be providing hot meals and a place to rest for staff working long hours, or specialised psychological support for staff struggling with stress, trauma and separation from their loved ones as they combat the virus on top of all the usual winter pressures.
It is also a good time to thank two important sets of people. The first are the amazing NHS staff and volunteers who are once again taking on the immense challenge presented by Covid while also keeping the rest of us safe and well.
It feels so good that we are in a position to be able to offer them support at the moment. And that leads onto the second group of people I want to thank. Everyone who has donated or fundraised on behalf of NHS charities, and those who are continuing to do so, are standing side by side with NHS workers and doing something to help them. I think everyone who has contributed should take pride in the fact that our appeal has now raised over £140m and that £110m of that total has already been made available to NHS charities.
Nobody knows for sure what direction this crisis will take us in, how long it will last and what we will be left to deal with when it is over. But it offers great reassurance to know that NHS staff and volunteers have got our back, and the public is doing their bit to support them.