More than 1,500 NHS and care workers have died from COVID-19 on the UK frontlines since the start of the pandemic, leaving behind grieving families, spouses and children.
The sudden loss of a loved one is a tragedy in the best of times, leaving families struggling not just emotionally, but financially as well. The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF), founded by NHS workers and their families in March 2020, knew all too well the fear and worry of having a loved one in the COVID firing line. This spurred the charity to create the Families Programme to support families where those fears have now become a tragic reality.
The Memorial Fund is the charity’s latest initiative and supports children commencing higher education or vocational courses through an annual grant to make sure they are not further disadvantaged by their loss. This approach is backed by research showing financial grants are an effective tool to improve student outcomes in higher education.
Having helped the lives of more than half a million healthcare workers to date, including £48,000 in childcare grants, £69,000 spent on counselling, over £70,000 in organisational grants for hardship and safe surgery initiatives, tens of thousands of items of PPE and delivered hot meals, the HWF has been committed to helping healthcare workers in every aspect of their lives. The Families Programme was a natural extension of the expansive need to help healthcare workers during the worst time of their lives and beyond.
Dr Dom Pimenta, co-founder and Chairman of the Healthcare Workers Foundation said: “To get through medical school I myself relied on scholarship funding, and that was with the support of my family, financially or emotionally. Getting through without either would have been immensely difficult, if not impossible.
“We have had 1,500 NHS and care worker deaths in this country since the start of the pandemic, a number higher than nearly anywhere else in the world per million. Ongoing support has already been provided to families who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19, including that of Elsie Sazuze, who passed away in April 2020 after contracting the virus whilst working on the frontline. Since her passing, the HWF has supported her husband Ken and two children Anna and Andrew with bereavement, respite and mentoring services.
Anna Sazuze, who took tutoring lessons provided by the HWF Families Programme said: “The tutoring courses really helped boost my confidence whilst studying in the lead up to my exams this summer. I’ve found it very useful, so knowing that the charity is also available to support during the final stages of my educational journey is a huge relief. The support the charity provides is invaluable and I’m glad other students across the UK who have had a similar experience to me will also benefit from this Fund into higher education and beyond.”
Dr Pimenta added: “Starting higher education or vocational studies should be an exciting time, but increasingly this comes with the stress and fear of expenses and relocation. When you lose a parent at a young age, you lose more than just a loved one. We lose opportunity, connections, mentoring and security. We can’t hope to fully replace that, but our ambition is to restore to the bereaved children of healthcare workers as far as humanly possible some of that access and security they have lost. This is what we would’ve wanted for our own children if the worst had come to pass.”
The HWF Memorial Fund is available to anyone entering a higher education or a higher qualification course. Approved applicants can access £5,000 per year and applications can be made directly through the HWF website from today, Tuesday 10 August.
Further details on the Memorial Fund and its eligibility requirements can be found by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support the activity HWF delivers for healthcare workers, whether that’s through its new Memorial Fund, the Families Programme, welfare and wellbeing services, childcare costs and more, please donate here or text HWF to 70085 to give £3 a month and keep their work going long into the future.