From Stephanie Hughes, Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Personal Development Coach: When I sat down to write this article, I found myself...
At Helpline we hold the Armed Forces very close to our hearts. Many of our wonderful pendant alarm customers are ex serving military personnel as are some of our valued staff members.
The founders of Helpline both came from military families and that background has enabled them to be thoroughly disciplined and focused when building the service. They were well informed of the unpredictability of life due to their military family upbringing, having to relocate frequently to different parts of the globe due to their parent’s job roles. This has impacted them in a positive way as they have been able to adapt very quickly to change, in this day and age technology is developing very quickly, so here at Helpline we pride ourselves on staying ‘ahead of the curve’ and aim to bring our customers the latest in emergency technology to support them in their home and surrounding areas.
In September 2019, we were proud to sign the Armed Forces Covenant to underline our commitment to honouring and supporting members of the Armed Forces Community, past and present.
The Armed Forces Covenant is an Enduring Covenant between the people of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Government and all those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces of the Crown and their families.
Covid-19 has meant that the country has needed to call upon its Armed Forces for help once again. Twenty thousand military personnel have been on standby since March as part of the COVID Support Force (CSF), with personnel deployed to assist with open military aid to civil authorities (MACA) requests.
We have all seen plenty in the media about the inspirational Captain Tom Moore, now Sir Tom. This war hero has been a beacon of light during very dark times, a knighthood is exactly what he deserves.
Captain Tom Moore, who was made an honorary colonel until he received his knighthood, decided to walk 100 laps of his 25-metre (27-yard) garden, ten laps per day, with the help of a walking frame, branding the endeavour "Tom's 100th Birthday Walk for the NHS". He achieved his impressive goal of one hundred laps on 16th April, watched at a safe distance by a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, the regiment into which the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment, Sir Tom’s original regiment, were merged in 2006. He said he would not stop, and aimed to do a second hundred.
On the morning of his 100th birthday he had raised £30 million. The JustGiving page for his campaign closed at the end of that day; the final amount raised being a staggering £32,796,475 (plus another £6,173,663.31 expected in tax rebates under the Gift Aid scheme) – a record for a JustGiving campaign, beating the previous record of £5.2 million raised (partially posthumously) by Stephen Sutton. More than 1.5 million individuals donated. We all followed his progress in awe on television, social media and in the newspapers.
The funds raised by Honorary Colonel Tom are being spent on such things as well-being packs for the National Health Service staff facilitating rest and recuperation rooms, devices to enable hospital patients to keep in contact with family members, and community groups who support patients once discharged from hospitals. Once his campaign ended, Tom encouraged people to continue to donate, directly to the NHS Charities Together's urgent appeal, and subsequently via his own Captain Tom Foundation.
Upon reaching the £5 million mark, Tom explained his motivation:
‘When we started off with this exercise we didn't anticipate we'd get anything near that sort of money. It's really amazing. All of them, from top to bottom, in the National Health Service, they deserve everything that we can possibly put in their place. They're all so brave. Because every morning or every night they're putting themselves into harm's way, and I think you've got to give them full marks for that effort. We're a little bit like having a war at the moment. But the doctors and the nurses, they're all on the front line, and all of us behind, we've got to supply them and keep them going with everything that they need, so that they can do their jobs even better than they're doing now.’
To mark Honorary Colonel Tom’s 100th lap, the singer Michael Ball sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" for him live on BBC Breakfast. Within 24 hours, the performance was made into a digital single featuring the NHS Voices of Care Choir, and Moore's spoken words. Released by Decca Records, on 17 April, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together, the recording topped the United Kingdom's "The Official Big Top 40" chart. It sold almost 36,000 copies in its first 48 hours, and was the "biggest trending song" as measured by the Official Charts Company. On 24 April, it went straight to No. 1 in the weekly "Official" UK Singles Chart, making Tom Moore the oldest person to achieve that position and meaning that he was at No. 1 on his 100th birthday, and became a one-hit wonder.
What an incredible man!
Regulars and Reservists from all three services, RAF, Army & Navy, have been helping to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS staff. The protective equipment includes items such as masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons, and protective suits. Personnel also helped to set up the Nightingale hospitals around the country, which have been providing additional care capacity for coronavirus patients.
The Coronavirus has meant everyone has had to learn how to cope with usual day to day life in a very new light, but are you aware of just how much military support is involved in keeping the country going during this Pandemic?
During the early stages of Coronavirus the UK saw several changes, thelaunched a to help slow the virus's spread, and began posting daily updates in early February. In February, the , , introduced the for England, and hospitals set up drive-through . The , , outlined a four-pronged strategy to tackle the outbreak: contain, delay, research and mitigate. In March, the UK government imposed a lockdown, banning all "non-essential" travel and contact with people outside one's home and closing most business and gathering places. Police were empowered to enforce the lockdown, and the gave the government not used since the . The military were and are on standby to back up police if necessary.
As the lockdown began isolation became the most recommended form of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Schools closed to their pupils, unless you were a key worker in which case your child/children could still attend, non-essential retail shops were shut and travel was out of the question. Many of us have found this very challenging as time goes on as we’re not used to being without our family and friends for so long as well as being unable to go out and be social in the community.
As travel ground to a halt the border controls in all countries became a lot tighter, this was another area that the military and police were relied upon quite heavily. Most started to have health screening areas for travellers coming in and out, as time went on it was advised that anyone coming back in to the UK from abroad immediately went into a 2 week isolation to be safe.
The biggest project the military has been part of during COVID-19 has been building and equiping the NHS Nightingale Hospitals. There are seven critical care temporary hospitals set up or scheduled to be set up by NHS England as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first of these hospitals to open was the NHS Nightingale Hospital London, which was officially opened on 3 April. As of 5 May 2020, six of the seven planned hospitals have been opened.
After the NHS Nightingale Hospital opened in London, having been built by many professionals with assistance from the Queens Ghurka Engineer Regiment and 36 Engineer Regiment, the following were also opened:
. Birmingham – A 5,000 bed facility at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. It was officially opened by Prince William, via video link, on 16th April.
. Bristol - The hospital is stated to have a planned capacity of up to 300 beds and is located in the Exhibition and Conference Centre on UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus. Spare student accommodation is also to be made available for doctors and nurses at the Frenchay campus. The hospital will have space to provide up to 1,000 beds, if necessary. This hospital was officially opened on 27 April 2020, in a virtual ceremony, by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens. It has the capacity to care for 60 patients, with the ability to scale up to 300 if required.
. Exeter - On 10 April, it was announced that a temporary hospital is to be provided in Exeter. The hospital, was originally expected to be built in Westpoint Arena near Clyst St Mary, and provide 200 beds, is due to be ready for use in early May. With the number of Covid-19 cases in the catchment area being lower than originally expected, the decision was taken to switch its location to the smaller site of a former retail outlet in Sowton for the hospital.
. Harrogate - On 3 April, a hospital for Harrogate, Yorkshire was announced by NHS England, with a 500-bed capacity, in the Harrogate Convention Centre. The wonderful Army veteran, the then Honorary Colonel Tom Moore, officially opened the hospital on 21 April 2020.
. Manchester - On 27 March, Simon Stevens also announced that a 1,000-bed hospital was to be provided in the Manchester Central Convention Complex, also due to open in mid-April.
The hospital was ready to receive patients on Easter Sunday, 13 April 2020. The official opening, by Duchess of Cornwall in a recorded speech, took place on 17 April 2020.
. Washington - On 10 April, it was announced that a 460-bed facility would be built in Washington, Tyne and Wear. The hospital, at the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing, was expected to be ready for use within two weeks.
The hospital was officially opened on 5 May 2020, in a virtual ceremony, by Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Health). The opening ceremony also featured television celebrities Ant and Dec, football pundit Alan Shearer and cricketer Ben Stokes.
Towards the end of March, NHS leading nursing staff expressed their concerns about where the extra staff were going to come from to man the Nightingale Hospitals. On 30 March the Government issued a call for all airline cabin crew to volunteer to be cross-trained as specialist health assistants.
As well as the impressive Nightingale Hospitals, we now have 96 mobile coronavirus testing units across the UK, 92 of these facilities are being staffed by the military, once they have been trained in conducting the tests by NHS professionals. The testing units became fully functional in the short space of just a week!
The Military continued to assist with the delivery of PPE around the country, for example, 101 Logistic Brigade delivered more than 50,000 face masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey MP, said the work is "just one example" of how the military and NHS will "work together over the coming months".
The MOD reported that personnel will deliver items to 242 NHS locations as part of the response to COVID-19. More than 460 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF will be ready to deliver the equipment to NHS facilities around England. Other personnel will also deploy to a PPE warehouse to prepare the equipment for dispatch.
It’s at times like this that we realise how important it is that we are part of the Armed Forces Covenant, it means we’re safe in the knowledge that the military personnel, who are doing so much for us at the moment, will be looked after once the Pandemic is over.
We must acknowledge their efforts and congratulate and celebrate them so they remember how valued they are.
The covenant focusses on helping members of the Armed Forces community have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen. Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. The Armed Forces Covenant does say that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.
Being part of the Armed Forces Covenant involves the whole of society: it includes voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces. It recognises those who have performed military duty, united the country and demonstrated the value of their contribution. This has no greater expression than in upholding this Covenant.
Here at Helpline we demonstrate our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant by promoting the fact that we are an Armed Forces friendly organisation. We do this by proudly displaying our covenant logo on our website and documentation, we also use our social media channels to promote and raise awareness of the Armed Forces community and our support for it.
We welcome veterans to apply for our vacancies if they feel they meet the job role criteria, we follow up our support to their application by ensuring that our hiring managers are trained to recognise the value and potential application of military skills and qualifications in our recruitment and selection process.
Due to our past and present involvement in the Armed Forces, one of our favourite parts of chatting to new and existing customers is hearing their wonderful stories of past experiences and careers, many of which involve the Armed Forces. Some have retold stories of the D Day landings as they were there, some explain how the rationing was during the Blitz, some that they were part of the team at Bletchley Park, and many many more - living history.
We are truly honoured to have so many veterans in our Helpline family and we hope to help many more. Being part of the Armed Forces Covenant we offer discounted services to veterans and spouses of veterans where possible.
Helpline always support their staff who are part of the Reserve Forces or the Cadet Forces in order for them to continue their military involvement alongside their career.
We currently have two members of the Helpline team actively involved with the RAF Air Cadets. One is a Civilian Instructor, the other is an adult Flight Sergeant who qualified as a Drill Instructor at RAF Cranwell in June 2015. We support these staff members in many ways so that they can maintain a successful Cadet career.
Helpline considers it a privilege to protect retired veterans and indeed all our customers, creating peace of mind by providing the ability to individual customers to summon assistance in the event of a medical or other emergency. It’s great to think that we can ride to the rescue of those who have served their country.
Call us to discuss the services that are suitable for your needs
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Discuss your needs with our friendly support team: 03458 247999
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