The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, also known as HWF (originally called Healthcare Extraordinary Response Organisation, Education & Support – HEROES) is a charity committed to protecting the welfare and wellbeing of healthcare workers across the UK. Having recently launched an online platform, Healthchain, the HWF has enabled easy access to a growing number of initiatives, including childcare grants, free counselling sessions, staff room improvements, free PPE and a growing number of wellbeing resources. Over the past year, the HWF has managed to raise over £3m in donations plus gifts in kind to support NHS workers and delivered over 560,000 units of services, face coverings, gifts, food and PPE to over 50 hospitals and other healthcare settings across the country.

We spoke to trustee and chairman Dr Dominic Pimenta about working for HWF and the challenges and rewards that the last 18 months have brought.

What is your job role at HWF?

“I am the co-founder and chairman of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation. This is a voluntary role I do around my day job as lead research physician at Richmond Research Institute, working on cardiac health and trial drug safety.”

How did you first get involved with HWF?

“In March 2020, alongside some friends who also work for the NHS, we started the charity to support the welfare and wellbeing of all NHS frontline staff during the pandemic crisis and long in the future.”

How do HWF continue to help the NHS?

“At the start of the pandemic and throughout the first lockdown we supported the NHS by helping to address the shortages in basic PPE: masks, visors and hand sanitiser.”

Through their donated funds, HWF have been able to supply childcare grants and counselling services for NHS staff wellbeing. They have also supported the first phase of the Oxford Inspire Snorkel Mask Project. A project taking a snorkel mask and modifying it to a permanent FFP3+ filtering system that could protect healthcare workers from COVID indefinitely.

Are there any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

“We will imminently be launching our HWF Memorial Fund to support the bereaved children of healthcare workers that died of Covid-19 with a £5000 annual scholarship for their Higher Education.”

The HWF launched this campaign as 850 plus NHS workers in the UK have passed away due to the virus. The charity is doing a lot of research, surveying over 1,000 healthcare workers on what services they may need.

“We’ve provided £65,000 worth of counselling sessions to support healthcare workers during COVID. And have grant-funded almost £75,000 worth of support for our Families Programme.”

As well as this, the charity has raised over £3 million to help NHS workers and have delivered 563,000 units of PPE, skincare, morale gifts, hot meals, snacks, counselling hours and childcare grants to frontline staff across 50 hospitals and other healthcare settings across the UK.

Was it hard to start a charity during the pandemic?

“Yes, of course! Alongside the charity I was still working full-time redeployed to COVID ICU.”

“We started the charity to meet the demands of healthcare workers right there and then, but quickly realised we would need to be in it for the long-haul. We need frontline care workers to stay in their jobs and to work in safe environments, to keep mentally and physically fit, and be supported to keep undertaking their work and providing their usual excellent care for their patients.”

How can people get involved to raise donations?

“We are delighted to receive donations from individuals and companies. Whether it is an individual who would like to raise funds for us by hosting an event or running a marathon or a company which would like to partner with us to and provide donations, or supply a product or service, we welcome all fundraising on our behalf.”

In early 2021, Healthcare Workers’ Foundation launched their online platform; Healthchain. The platform enables healthcare professionals access to their growing number of free initiatives, including; childcare support grants, counselling and therapy sessions, discount codes and wellbeing room support. Sign up today to gain access by simply using your NHS email* to join.

*Not got an NHS email? Let us know here and we’ll put you in touch with HWF.