It’s been one year since the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF), the charity started by and for healthcare workers, launched their Families Programme to support the families of healthcare workers who sadly lost their lives fighting covid-19 on the UK’s frontlines.
Ken Sazuze and his two children were the first beneficiaries of HWF’s new provision, and to coincide with the twelve-month milestone as well as the end of National Grief Awareness Week, Ken sheds light on how HWF’s kindness and support during trialling times has helped them to cope and push forward with their lives.
Elsie (44) was a care home nurse based in Birmingham and tragically lost her life in April 2020 after contracting covid-19. She leaves behind her husband, Ken, son Andrew (23) and daughter Anna (17). Through HWF’s family-led initiatives – the Families Programme and the Memorial Fund – the Sazuze’s have been able to navigate the last 12 months with the full support of the charity, ranging from individual and group bereavement counselling sessions, respite breaks, financial support and, more recently, with tutoring courses for Anna’s tertiary studies.
Speaking of his experience, Ken said: “The charity has been incredibly helpful not only for myself but for my children. HWF have been an enormous beacon of strength and support for us during the last year. Their kindness has made an immeasurable impact on our lives when we needed it most.”
“The support from HWF has made life better, and the counselling services and time spent together has made the world of difference. Grief comes and goes without you controlling it – you never know how long it will last or how fast it will come. The help from the team at HWF has been immense – they have been like a rock; all of my needs have been met which has helped to take the pressure off and made the process a lot easier.”
This time last year HWF launched their Families Programme in response to direct feedback from other healthcare workers who shared their fears and anxieties about the impact their work could have on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. To date, more than 1,500 health and social care workers have passed away from covid-19, and many families with children are left behind who may be in need of support.
Since then, the Families Programme has raised nearly £100,000, to support families like the Sazuze’s who have sadly lost a parent or a partner. More recently the charity announced the launch of their Memorial Fund, an initiative that supports children commencing higher education or vocational courses. Both programmes are natural extensions of HWF’s early proposition and aim to address the needs of healthcare workers and their families who have also been impacted.
Dr Dominic Pimenta, co-founder and Chairman of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation said: “Hearing Ken’s feedback about how we have supported his family over the last year is the exact reason why we launched this charity and these initiatives in the first place. Healthcare workers, like Elsie, fought so hard to keep our communities safe when the pandemic swept through the UK – we owe it to them and their dedication to ensure their families can securely embark on their next chapter with guidance, support, and resource.
“National Grief Awareness Week represents a moment for everyone to reflect on how we as a society approach grief – there is still so much stigma around this topic and its impact on mental health. Equally, people can feel uncomfortable asking for help if they’re grieving – it’s a personal, unique and challenging process that we want to ensure everyone can navigate. The pandemic has introduced a grief epidemic that we’ll feel for years to come – the loss felt by NHS workers and their families is the core reason we created these initiatives, so that families left behind don’t have to go through it alone.”
Twelve months down the track, Ken and his children continue to move forward with their lives and plan for the next chapter. Ken is spearheading a party in April 2022 to commemorate his wife, while Andrew pursues his accounting career and Anna explores tertiary education with the help of HWF’s tutoring services.
“When someone is grieving, the best medicine is kindness, and the support from the HWF has been just that. We communicate with them all the time, they’ve always been so considerate and understanding and have proven they haven’t given up on us,” Ken said.
Dr Dominic Pimenta adds, “since launching this provision we have raised close to £100,000 and have supported six families. We know there are other families of NHS workers who would benefit from this support, like the Sazuze’s. We’re urging these families to get in touch so we can help them – whether it’s for bereavement counselling, mentoring for their children or to ensure they can spend quality time together through respite breaks – we are here to support.”
HWF is looking to support other UK families who have lost a loved one while fighting on the frontline and is calling on eligible parents to get in touch to discuss how HWF can help. Get in contact with the charity here.