Church and local chefs come together to feed NHS staff in Ashford

  • Full report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

When a community church in Kent heard about the pressure the NHS staff were under at their local hospital, they felt obliged to step in and support them.

Nic and Chris Kimmance, both senior pastors at the Ashford Vineyard Church, are now delivering food packages to the William Harvey Hospital every day. It's an idea that has picked up significant momentum.

"Amongst the community we had started to hear that there were members of staff who were exhausted, under a huge amount of pressure, and they were struggling to find the time to go to the canteen to get food, or getting to the end of the shift having not found the right moment to sit and eat a meal." Nic says.

Many of the volunteer chefs are currently furloughed from their restaurant jobs Credit: ITV News Meridian

At the very beginning, they utilised home cooks from around the community which helped get the project off the ground. And very quickly they were serving around 50 meals per day.

They then sought the help from the professionals. "So, now what we're doing is exclusively using cooks from food businesses and licensed kitchens." Chris explains.

Each portion is freshly prepared and then frozen before delivery, with many of the volunteer chefs currently furloughed from restaurant jobs. 

Notes of appreciation accompany the meals that are delivered to the staff in the hospital Credit: ITV News Meridian

With the NHS Staff at the William Harvey Hospital being under considerable strain, finding the time to eat can be a priority that falls by the wayside.

"It's really good, especially for the doctors because some of them live in accommodation - the young ones - and they don't cook. But the meals that get brought in are really good, we share them out amongst various departments." says Donna Hogan a Ward Sister at the William Harvey Hospital.

Each delivery even contains a hand-written of note, to remind the staff working tirelessly inside the hospital just how much they are appreciated.

Those in charge here say the scheme is making an enormous difference to staff morale.

The volunteers have even started getting messages of thanks back from the staff themselves, with the staff valuing the personal messages of appreciation just as much as the food.

"People don't need to have any faith or belief system but we get just to show them they are loved and seen." Nic says.