As we approach the NHS 72nd birthday, we take a look at some of the people working behind the scenes to support the fight against Covid-19.
Myka Baum, service user
Myka (pictured far right), an artist and craft maker, and also a C&I service user has been putting her skills to great use during the Covid-19 pandemic by creating scrubs, masks and face coverings for the NHS including teams at Camden and Islington NHS Trust.
Myka said: “With a background in garment production and operations management, I knew I had to do something to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the height of our production there were 20 of us cutting scrubs at our hub in Islington, with over 50 home seamsters and a dozen volunteer drivers and admin assistants. Almost 2,000 sets of scrubs later, we are coming to the close of our orders and are now concentrating on face coverings. We have donated over 750 free masks to keyworkers and vulnerable people. A small fraction of masks is sold to help us make more masks.
“Having been able to contribute to the Covid-19 effort has had a significantly positive effect on my mental health. It has given me a sense of purpose and drive which has helped me turn a corner after an extensive period of very poor mental health. I have developed a stronger sense of being part of the local community and have gained confidence in my organisational and leadership skills at the same time.”
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When there was a call-out to staff at the Trust for support on acute wards Spiro (pictured far left), who would normally talk to patients with depression or other milder mental health issues in an outpatient setting, stepped forward and was redeployed to work on Topaz Ward at Highgate Mental Health Centre. Topaz looks after some of the most unwell mental health patients who need inpatient support with their mental health conditions.
Spiro said: “My key responsibilities included carrying out physical checks, ensuring patients’ wellbeing and contributing to the daily meetings attended by the doctors, nurses and other staff on the ward.
“I was also able to use skills from my day job as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner to ensure the wellbeing of ward staff who were under a lot of pressure was kept a priority.
Spiro, who is now back with his iCope team, enjoyed having the experience of getting to work in a different setting over the past few months and said: “It was a privilege having more direct day-to-day contact with inpatients and seeing their recovery journey was so rewarding.
“It was inspiring to see that, despite the challenges Covid-19 threw up , staff kept calm, supported each other and ensured we still provided the best possible care for service users.
Jojo Emenike, Interim Head of Facilities
Jojo (pictured second from right) had only been working at C&I for a few months before the pandemic hit earlier this year and was thrown in at the deep end to help cope with organising crucial supplies.
Jojo is instrumental in getting key items to our frontline clinical colleagues, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, as well as organising the distributing of kind ‘thank you’ donations from external organisations for teams and service users.
With support from clinical colleagues and a team of porters, Jojo set up a centralised C&I Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) store and has led on making sure a sufficient amount of stock is delivered to our sites in a quick and streamlined way.
Jojo said: “It’s been a very rewarding role to support clinical colleagues who are working so hard during these extraordinary times.
“At first it was very challenging, and a big part of my job has been reassuring colleagues that the Trust does have the PPE we need. PPE has been pivotal in tackling this pandemic and in ensuring our staff and service users are safe, so I’ve gained a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I’m playing my part from behind the scenes.”
Robert Hands, Actor
Robert (pictured second from left), who is from North London has been volunteering his time at C&I during Covid-19, after the theatre industry closed down in mid-March when government restrictions hit.
Robert is a Volunteer Driver three times per week and drives staff in between sites in order for them to do their shifts and support our service users.
Robert said: “It’s lovely to be able to give back in a tiny way – and to feel that I’m helping the NHS when it is facing the biggest challenge of our time. It’s given me a bit of structure in lockdown and that’s been a real benefit on my mental wellbeing. I’ve felt a real sense of community spirit whilst volunteering.”
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In an emergency
C&I has moved the service we normally offer in emergency departments to our 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service, at St Pancras Hospital. The service will see people in need of urgent care so that they do not have to go to a hospital emergency department unless they have an urgent medical need. Emergency departments are under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus. We are urging people in mental health crisis to telephone our 24/7 crisis line on 020 3317 6333 or contact their usual community mental health team. If service users attend the 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service in person we will see you but we urge you to contact the crisis line in advance for advice to ensure you are only leaving home when absolutely necessary.