The Royal Bank of Scotland has backed a campaign to supply ‘Rainbow Boxes’ of clothes, toiletries and other supplies to all Covid-19 patients in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
The boxes were devised by ERI nurse Alison Williams, who raised £24,000 in public donations for her Rainbow Box Foundation.
RBS has now thrown its support behind the project, donating £25,000 from its 300 Fund, which will ensure the boxes can be distributed until September.
The bank is also working with catering company Baxter Storey and Social Bite to offer 1,500 free meals for frontline NHS staff each day, and continues to work with The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News to encourage businesses to donate to its Foodbank Distribution Centre in Gogarburn.
Alison Williams launched the Rainbow Box campaign after seeing first hand that many patients arrive at Covid-19 wards with no supplies or overnight bags, as admission to hospital is often an emergency measure after a sudden turn for the worse.
Many then find it difficult to communicate with family members to ask for supplies, and family members are further hindered by rules against visitors.
Her fund aims to buy pyjamas, toiletries, phone chargers and other essential supplies for patients, as well as iPads and mobile phones to allow patients to keep in contact with family members who are not allowed to visit.
Speaking in response to the RBS donation Ms Williams said: “Our initial fundraising through JustGiving was incredible and really helped to get Rainbow Boxes off the ground and much needed items into wards quickly.
“However, this amazingly generous donation from Royal Bank of Scotland will help us to not only sustain this support for a longer period, but also to widen it to non-Covid-19 wards throughout the Lothian region and potentially further afield.”
Malcolm Buchanan, Chair of the Scotland Board at RBS, said: “The tragedy that coronavirus creates is sadly all too clear but it is often the side effects which can feel as frightening as the condition itself.
“The Rainbow Box Foundation was born from the experience of those at the frontline helping those affected and as a bank which has seen customers, colleagues, friends and family affected, we wanted to help.
“Our 300 Fund was created to help support projects making a difference to people living in Scotland. The Rainbow Box Foundation and the NHS Lothian Covid-19 Appeal reflect those values and are offering help and support at a time when the most vulnerable people in Scotland need it most.”
The RBS 300 Fund was launched in January 2020 to mark the 300th anniversary of the bank in 2027, and will see the bank invest in several projects in Scotland over the next seven years.
Jane Ferguson, director of the Edinburgh Lothian Health Foundation, said: “The support of the general public and local businesses to NHS Lothian’s COVID-19 response has been incredible to witness.
“Nurse Alison Williams and her friends have raised thousands of pounds to fund rainbow boxes for Covid-19 patients, supported by Royal Bank of Scotland who have donated an amazing £25,0000 to ensure that these boxes can be distributed for the next 20 weeks.
“As the official charity partner of NHS Lothian, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation is working closely with staff to understand where the areas of greatest need are, so that we can respond flexibly to an ever-changing situation.
“Thanks to donations received to our Appeal so far, we have been able to supply mobile phones and tablets to wards across Edinburgh and the Lothians which allows patients to contact family and friends whilst visiting is suspended.
“We have also been supporting staff to get respite areas set up with recliner chairs, TVs, snacks and refreshments so that they have somewhere to go where they can rest, relax and get a bit of much earned downtime.”