Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis Raise 1 Million Pounds to Feed NHS Workers

The coronavirus crisis is a challenging time for all of us, but most especially so for those battling the virus directly. Our frontline workers frequently work shifts of over 12 hours, with very little rest time, taking a devastating toll on their physical and mental well-being. While we can all play our part by practicing social distancing measures, Harry Potter actress Helen McCrory, who portrays Narcissa Malfoy, and her husband, Damian Lewis, have decided to go the extra mile to help health care workers.

McCrory and Lewis recently made an appearance on the BBC podcast The Coronavirus Newscast to talk about the charitable work that they have been doing to ease the burden on NHS workers. They have raised an astounding one million pounds to donate healthy meals to NHS workers who are on call. McCrory shared the inspiration behind this project:

One of the big problems [the NHS workers] had was that all the cafés and all the restaurants around the hospitals were closing, and the hours that they were doing were getting longer and longer, and they weren’t able to get food.

In response, the couple decided to donate free pizzas to hospital staff all over London, but they soon found out that fast food was simply not enough. There were too many hungry workers, and pizza didn’t have enough nutrition to sustain them throughout their exhausting schedule.

That’s when we thought, ‘Okay, we’ve sent out free pizzas,’ and then we spoke to a man called Bob Klaber from the Imperial Foundation Trust, and he explained that it was more than just a few pizzas and that, actually, they had a large amount of staff who weren’t managing to eat at all. [Some] hospitals, like the Paddington, don’t even have a restaurant at all.

Out of this conversation, the Feed NHS campaign was born. Set up by actor Matt Lucas, Helen McCrory, Damian Lewis, and John Vincent of United Kingdom-based fast food restaurant chain LEON, the nonprofit provides almost 6,000 meals a day each to the 20,000 staff and members of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They have also reached out to partner with many food suppliers, both large caterers and small businesses, forming a coalition of goodwill among food operators across the country to help out.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Hundreds of NHS workers have benefited immensely from not only the donated meals but also the generous donations of gratitude from the British public. As a result, McCrory and Lewis are planning to expand the project to include other cities beyond London.

But of course, as soon as we started raising this money for London, we’re getting lots of messages saying, ‘My sister-in-law is at Cardiff,’ or, ‘My mother is a nurse in Birmingham,’ or whatever [it] happens to be. We’re almost at our million-pound target now [within only] ten days of starting it. The British public has been incredible, and a lot of people are feeling a bit cash-strapped at the moment, so they’ve been unbelievably generous. But it means we can now kick in with a second round of fundraising, which is essentially what we’ve been trying to do, in order to take it to Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, because the virus will move to those other city centers.

The impact on NHS workers has been massive. The podcast hosts concluded by underscoring how far the aid has gone in improving the lives of health care workers.

I went into the staff room, and there was a huge, huge spread of food, all of which had been donated. I recorded a video, and they wanted to thank people who had donated it and all the volunteers who had brought it in. And they were chomping through it. There was healthy stuff, loads of it, lots of fruit, hummus, there was lovely broccoli salads, and there were also loads of carbs as well. So they were immensely, immensely grateful.

If you’d like to contribute to the campaign, head down to the Feed NHS website and make a donation now! Let us know what you think of this campaign in the comments below.