Coronavirus appeal: A special message from the Royal Free Charity

Judy Dewinter (centre) is chair of the trustees of the Royal Free Charity. Picture: Royal Free Chari

Judy Dewinter (centre) is chair of the trustees of the Royal Free Charity. Picture: Royal Free Charity - Credit: Royal Free charity

In December 2014, a heroic nurse called Pauline Cafferkey became infected while working with victims of ebola in Sierra Leone. She spent almost a month in an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital, being cared for by specially trained medical staff, and she survived.

Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Picture: André Langlois

Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Picture: André Langlois - Credit: Archant

The infectious diseases unit has been at the Royal Free Hospital since 2003 and is just one example of the world-class healthcare treatment, clinical research and teaching excellence offered by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The Royal Free Charity, which I am proud to chair, is the lynchpin of support for the trust and now, as our staff face the biggest challenge of their lives, we are determined to support them and to show them how much we care.

Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis of a highly complex nature.

In an effort that is being replicated across the entire NHS, the trust’s 10,000-strong workforce, primarily from Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, is showing the most incredible dedication and professionalism under intense pressure.

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From our nurses and doctors on the wards and intensive care units, to the porters, cleaners and admin staff - everyone is playing their role in the fight against this deadly virus.

Since the crisis began, the Royal Free Charity has been consulting regularly with the trust, to identify exactly what staff need to help support them in their roles and to make life a little more bearable. Much of this will be funded by the government, but not everything.

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We have launched the Royal Free Charity Covid-19 Emergency Fund in response. Our aim is to get a complete support service in place as soon as possible to help staff cope in the weeks and months ahead. Every penny will make a real difference to the lives of our local heroes; from the provision of care packages at the end of a very long shift, to multi-faceted psychological support and the creation of physical respite spaces for them to connect with their families.

We are asking anybody who feels a connection to our hospitals to support the trust’s staff and show them how much we care, as they care for our loved ones. We know their lives are being turned upside down, as they work long hours and face great personal sacrifice to win this battle on our behalf.

And we will ensure you hear how your generosity is helping, keeping you closely updated on the progress of our appeal and the tangible difference you are making. We want the message to be loud and clear for staff at our hospitals: “You are our heroes and we will support you with whatever you need.”

To donate to the Royal Free Charity’s emergency fund, see

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