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Category Archives: COVID-19 Heroes

City Alumni Hero: Leigh Andrews – Uses speech and language therapy to help, motivate and uplift the vulnerable around her

COVID-19 Heroes.

Leigh AndrewsSchool of Health Sciences alumna Leigh Andrews (Speech and Language Therapy, 2019) works with people who are living on the streets or hostels and have hit hard times in their lives. As the pandemic started those were living on the streets were the most exposed and vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. “Some local councils have sourced hotel accommodation for people who are homeless so that they can safely isolate at this time. Many people welcomed the opportunity to be sheltered in a hotel, but it is not an easy time. All homelessness organisations have had to rethink how they work and there has been interruptions or closure of some services that are essential to people previously living on the street.” As the pandemic has caused disruptions in all sectors homeless organisations have opted to send the food packages, they would normally prepare, straight to the hotels.

Change Communication

Leigh got involved with the efforts of supporting the vulnerable through her company, “Westminster City Council recognised that some people hosted in hotels may have communication needs. They asked Change Communication to help guests understand the purpose of the hotel stay, the steps they could take to keep safe, and identify positive ways of spending the time while isolating.” She spent time getting to know people in the hotels, working with staff to support communication about important matters such as GP calls, and creating things like quizzes and puzzles that didn’t rely on literacy skills. “A City, University of London, student who had volunteered for our organisation joined us in paid capacity to support our work which was a great experience for us both!”

Having spent a great deal of time working in the hotels accommodating vulnerable people, Leigh found that their support helped some people to access and accept support from other health and care services while in the hotel. She was also able to talk about what speech and language therapy is with staff and raise awareness of how they could all help people with communicating needs.

As there is a growing need for effective communication support from homelessness and health organisations during the pandemic, Leigh has a lot of interest in the work she does which, together with getting to grips with Microsoft Teams and Zoom, has kept her busy helping the most vulnerable during the global pandemic.

 

On behalf of all of us in the City Community – thank you Leigh for all your work in alleviating the terrible effects caused by the pandemic isolation.

 

 

Living through giving: Supporting the community and spreading the love

COVID-19 Heroes.

While the Indian government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi has taken a “prevention is better than cure” approach in India to flatten the curve of Coronavirus, Priyanka Amit Shah (Marketing Strategy and Innovation, 2018) told us about the devastating impact the current crisis is having on daily-wage earners and her efforts to support them.

Priyanka said: “Most of the citizens that are employed in the informal sector such as the daily-wage earners do not enjoy the benefits of sick/paid leave and lack any kind of insurance. They also, unfortunately, do not have access to services like a pension, with very few possessing bank accounts. They earn in cash and are the sole breadwinners of their families, feeding four to five children on an average. Not to forget, the migrant workers and the floating population who are also suffering tremendously. They are stranded and have nothing to fall back upon. They fear that hunger will kill them before coronavirus does.”

Feeling grateful for having access to food, shelter, family and friends, Priyanka explains that she can’t rest until she gives back to her community: “My family and I are active members of the Rotary Club of Mumbai Queens Necklace and we have been contributing to sponsor daily meals for the families of A K Munshi School of Special Children in Mumbai. The Club has also been working in partnership with Annamrita Cares – an initiative against COVID-19 to help serve 6,647,073 meals across India. To date, the Club has helped sponsor 130,000 meals per day during the lockdown. We have also been providing protective gear and testing kits to the JJ Hospital in Mumbai.

With many of the population in India in the senior citizen’s category, Priyanka and her family have been volunteering to help elderly people with purchasing groceries and medicines or even running unavoidable errands to minimise their exposure to contamination and any risk on their lives. Some of their life-saving work has been highlighted in the Hindustan Times – India’s leading daily newspaper.

Being a Director at Letters of Love, a youth-led international non-profit organisation based in the United States of America, Priyanka has been working on launching a new campaign called #DearHeroes.

Priyanka explains: “The #DearHeroes global letter-writing campaign is our effort at extending a hand in gratitude to the thousands of medical staff who are at the frontline, risking their lives and waging this battle at the forefront. A letter of love is to let them know that we see them as human beings, we admire their resilience and that we are endlessly grateful. A letter is a humble attempt at spreading smiles to those who deserve it the most. It is a token of hope, personalised with a warm message which is written by hand by our team of volunteers in the native language of the receiver, doodled with colours and signed off in your name.

“After sending more than 50,000 letters to refugee children around the world, today, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are refocusing our attention to write letters to the Heroes of the Hour – Doctors and Nurses. To thank our heroes, one letter at a time!”

Priyanka concludes with this very inspirational statement: “Every day, I wake up with a thought that today is not just another day. Today, I’ll create something beautiful. Today, I’ll make a difference. Today, I’ll give back. I’ve always been a believer that we are not meant to bear what we find unpleasant, we are meant to change it.”

Delivering personal protective equipment to those on the frontline

COVID-19 Heroes.

When the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically spread across the UK in just a matter of weeks, Chair of Harrow Carers Manoj Varsani (Modular Executive MBA, 2017 and Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence, 2007) experienced firsthand the huge and critical impact of the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage. As the founder of a fintech company called Hammock, Manoj enlisted the support of his co-founder Marco Ferrari (Modular Executive MBA, 2017), and the rest of their team to ensure NHS organisations and charities receive the PPE supplies they urgently require at a fair price. As such SOS Supplies was born in just 24 hours!

Since Hammock set up this new initiative, SOS Supplies, the team has recruited over 20 volunteers, which has enabled them to work with more than 150 organisations and deliver over 400,000 pieces of PPE to various charities and organisations. To support this work, SOS Supplies has completed its first fundraiser of £5,000 and is in the process of running a second one in partnership with Harrow Carers to raise £15,000. All the money raised is being spent on PPE for organisations working with SOS Supplies, so if you would like to and are able to, please do donate.

Marco (left) said: “SOS Supplies complements our professional efforts by helping us feel that we can do something to help with the COVID-19 pandemic and that we don’t have to just accept the current reality as is.

“The stories we hear from the organisation we’re helping – from large established charities like Marie Curie to small local groups – always bring an injection of positive energy and hope in our day-to-day.”

Manoj concluded: “We’re very lucky that Hammock is a digital business and provides services that can be offered despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Our company is still very young, so there is always a lot to do, but we’re finding that this helps us keep our minds focused and reduces the risk of falling victim to anxiety during this complex time.”

A huge thank you to Manoj and Marco for sharing their story and for all the incredible work they are doing to ensure frontline staff have the PPE they truly need! Follow the team on Twitter to find out more.

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