Selfless people from all over the travel industry have stepped up to support the stretched NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.
Through the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme, anyone can sign up to collect shopping or prescriptions for someone who is self-isolating; drive patients to appointments; or simply chat with someone facing loneliness.
Tom Cloherty, a senior account manager at Exsus Travel, encouraged volunteers on the Travel Gossip Facebook page and received a flood of positive responses.
“I think those in travel are ‘people people’ – caring and considerate – [qualities] that [are] important while we rescue stranded people abroad or help them with rebooking,” said Cloherty. “So it makes sense we would volunteer.”
Thousands of Virgin Atlantic and easyJet cabin crew are also being asked to volunteer at three new Nightingale field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Aishling McLoughlin, business development director for Iberostar and sales rep for Hapag-Lloyd, is one of those who put herself forward. “I am so proud of the NHS and I am very impressed by what we have done as a country in this situation.”
Sarah Harding, luxury sales advisor at Infinity&Beyond Travel, has previously volunteered with Age UK’s Befriending scheme and has now signed up to help the NHS.
She said: “For anybody who has the option, it’s a really good thing to do.”
There are also operators and agencies looking to reward NHS workers, including Ocky White Travel offering local Hywel Dda University Health Board staff a £100 voucher; short-let properties provider UnderTheDoormat opening up its homes to doctors and nurses for free; and Original Travel giving away £20,000 worth of prizes in a raffle for NHS staff.
NHS midwife Joanne Woodhall, who also juggles being a Designer Travel homeworker, praised everyone who has donated. “It’s fantastic. We couldn’t do what we do without this help,” she said.