A truck containing over 300,000 masks and hospital aprons arrived last week at the Salvation Army’s main distribution centre in Wellingborough, Northants. It is the first of several cargoes of kit destined for Salvation Army hubs in order to protect some of the most vulnerable people across the UK.
This delivery alone weighed three tons, and will not only be distributed across the Salvation Army’s own network of 12 care homes and more than 80 housing centres for the homeless. The Salvation Army has kindly agreed to help Mail Force distribute it to other charities including Age UK, Turning Point and Leonard Cheshire.
Like the entire charitable sector, these organisations have all suffered a major downturn in fundraising and donations since the start of the pandemic. They all desperately need PPE in large quantities if they are to keep both their staff and beneficiaries free from infection in order to maintain their important work.
‘This generous donation will save lives and money and we are very grateful to Mail Force,’ said Malcolm Page, the Salvation Army’s assistant director of homelessness services.
‘While we haven’t yet run out of equipment, there were moments when I was very worried.
‘We are currently spending around £24,000 per week on PPE to keep our staff and vulnerable service users safe. Having such a big donation means we can re-channel some of that money.’
Mr Page and his teams responded to the coronavirus outbreak instantly by reducing shift sizes and interaction between different floor levels at the Salvation Army’s ‘Lifehouses’, as their supported-living hostels for the homeless are known.
The Salvation Army is also helping other organisations receive Mail Force PPE, among them Leonard Cheshire. Founded by the wartime RAF hero in 1948, its 4,700 staff help 2,700 people with a range of disabilities in 120 care homes across the UK.
‘The last three months have seen numerous acts of generosity and goodwill,’ said Hugh Fenn, executive director of UK care services at Leonard Cheshire.
‘This donation from Mail Force through the Salvation Army is particularly generous and indicative of the tremendous cooperation apparent in our sector and beyond during the pandemic.
Last year another beneficiary, Turning Point, helped 110,000 people with a wide variety of disabilities and mental health issues, many of them in a residential setting.
Here, again, PPE is vital. ‘Future funding is uncertain so any support for frontline services is welcomed,’ said Clare Taylor, national director of operations.
‘This is why we are hugely grateful for this donation which will be a great help in protecting our amazing staff and the people we support in these testing times.’
The sentiment was echoed by Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, which relies on PPE if it is to continue offering care services and support for the elderly in their own homes.
‘This is a period of great anxiety for everyone, but especially for older people and their loved ones,’ she said yesterday.
‘Age UK is determined to be there for older people who need our help and especially for those who have no one else to turn to in this time of crisis.
‘Thank you to those who have donated to Mail Force and to the Salvation Army for making sure we can respond to the growing needs and unprecedented demand we’re seeing.’