At the same time, a nurse who worked on the frontline in the capital during the first wave is assembling hundreds of food parcels and toiletry supplies for former colleagues.
Rosie Sutton-Roberts, 31, says the public generosity shown last March has barely surfaced this time round.
— Richard Schilling (@Prof_Schilling) January 16, 2021
It comes after Barts Health cardiologist Professor Richard Schilling told how food donated by Humdingers Catering had been a “saviour” after he had worked for 22 hours only to find the hospital canteen shut.
The firm, which already runs a free soup kitchen on weekday evenings in Hoxton, aims to deliver 200 meals a day over the next three months to bolster morale and wellbeing of Royal London staff with little time to cook for themselves.
It is seeking donations to help cover its costs and says £15 will be enough to feed a nurse for a week. The value of the food, if charged at Humdingers' normal rate, is approaching £120,000.
Ms Sutton-Roberts, 31, a junior sister at a London hospital during the first wave of the pandemic, now works as a community public health nurse. The overwhelming pressures she faced during the first wave were one reason why she switched jobs.
She and two friends, Jo Ditchmen, 48, and Tanya Tozer, 41, both currently furloughed from their jobs in the hospitality industry, have raised more than £1,100 in a week.
Ms Sutton-Roberts said: “During the first wave of the pandemic, we were receiving free dinners every single day from restaurants and businesses across the city, and even had toiletries and gifts donated by luxury toiletry brands. Small signs of appreciation that helped us through some of the most challenging and emotional days of our career.
“However, it seems this is no long the case this time round. There are very few food and toiletry parcels being donated now and this made me incredibly sad, especially as things are even worse than they were in March.”
They have already assembled more than 200 food parcels and 50 toiletry bags which are due to be delivered to hospitals this week.
They are also sharing the heart-wrenching accounts of hospital life on their campaign’s Instagram page, @fuellingfrontline Stories include a nurse’s grief for her patients, a sister who took charge of two wards due to staff sickness and a healthcare worker who is on her feet for 13 hours a day.
“I want to put the spotlight back on hospital workers who are keeping people alive but barely surviving themselves,” Ms Sutton-Roberts said.
“OK, I know a nice bar of chocolate or a hot meal isn’t going to create miracles, but we want to show them they haven’t been forgotten and we continue to admire and appreciate everything they’re doing.”