June 24, 2020 • Workplace5 min read

How businesses can support the NHS during Coronavirus and beyond

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS has witnessed an outpouring of love and support from the general public and businesses alike. Here’s how your company can support the NHS now and well into the future.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic swept through the UK and forced us all to stay at home, the outpouring of love and support for the NHS has been undeniable. 

We’ve witnessed the Clap for Carers initiative; we’ve seen rainbow drawings stuck to the windows of family homes across the country; and charitable organisations and individuals have donated food, PPE, and care packages to doctors, nurses, and other key workers to thank them for their hard work.

But our support for the NHS shouldn’t stop there. There are many ways your business can help support the NHS and its staff now and into the future. So, here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Donate meals & care packages

Three NHS workers with doughnuts creating smiley faces

Many organisations have founded projects that send care packages to NHS staff to help keep them going through this challenging time. While new Coronavirus cases are far fewer than they were a couple of months ago, NHS staff still deserve treats for their tireless work and care.

There’s still time to send food parcels to NHS staff and other key workers through our #FeedYourCommunity initiative by donating your regular work meals to the cause. Whether it’s a box of doughnuts, a hot dinner, or bottles of G&T to end a hard week, every donation brings a smile! Email foodguru@citypantry.com to find out more.

Donating to charities that continually support vulnerable communities may also help take some pressure off the NHS in the long run by helping to keep those in need fed and sheltered. Your company could consider setting up regular donations to food banks and other charities that protect the most vulnerable people in society as a way of indirectly supporting the NHS.

2. Stay thankful and spread awareness

Thankful Hearts logo on yellow background

Clap for Carers has drawn to a close and the UK lockdown is easing, but as life returns to some kind of normality it’s important that we keep up the same level of energy and love for the NHS as we did during our darkest time.

Thankful Hearts is a new initiative that aims to remember, support and heal the NHS in a post-lockdown UK. Thankful Hearts’ team of four co-founders have created a symbol of hope and remembrance to say thank you to the NHS for all it has done throughout this crisis and all it will do beyond the pandemic.

The symbol is now central to Thankful Hearts’ campaign, which uses the tagline: “When the clapping stops and the rainbows disappear, what lives on are our Thankful Hearts”.

Members of the public and businesses alike can buy stickers adorned with the Thankful Heart symbol to show continued support for the NHS, and all sales proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together, a membership organisation representing, supporting, and championing NHS Charities.

In June 2020, City Pantry partnered with Thankful Hearts to distribute stickers and info packs to our customers alongside their food orders. And your company can partner with this amazing not-for-profit too!

3. Create a healthy work environment


Heart-shaped bowl of berries

Fostering a work environment that puts employee health and wellbeing first is one way your company may be able to support the NHS in the long term. Afterall, we spend most of our time at work and sadly it’s the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. By introducing measures to support your employees and by creating an open, approachable work environment, you can help your colleagues to lead healthier, happier lives.

Here are some of the ways you can look after your employees’ health:

- Pay them a decent living wage
- Allow employees to work flexibly to ensure they have a good work-life balance
- Encourage staff to take time off for holiday and recovery after illness
- Hire a dedicated HR/People Team
- Include mental health initiatives in your company benefits
- Train up employees to become Mental Health First Aiders
- Provide healthy food in the workplace
- Offer free or subsidised gym memberships
- Host free exercise classes at work or online
- Give employees a learning allowance to spend on improving their skills
- Be open, honest, and proactive about opportunities for progression and promotion

We spoke to Rosie, our People Associate, about the kinds of things City Pantry does to foster mental and physical wellbeing. Here’s what she said:

“Back when we were working in the office, we had weekly yoga sessions, but we’ve moved them online while everyone’s working from home. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul! We also offer access to Unmind, a workplace mental health platform, as well as access to coaching through Sanctus, a service that gives employees a one-on-one space to talk that’s separate from business,

“Our Employee Assistance Programme includes webinars on topics like work-life balance, resilience, and access to four-week programmes on things like quitting smoking and improving your diet. The programme also offers access to confidential counselling services,

“Since introducing these initiatives, our recent engagement survey showed a jump in 12% for the statement ‘City Pantry cares about my mental wellbeing’”.

While there are conflicting opinions on whether private healthcare does or does not help the NHS, what companies can do to help take pressure off of NHS resources is to cultivate a healthy workspace for their employees. A space in which employees can openly and safely discuss their health issues and concerns, and a space that allows them to lead healthy, balanced lifestyles.

4. Advocate for the NHS

Cardboard signs with handwritten messages to the NHS

While there are so many amazing initiatives helping the NHS through donations, it’s important to remember that the NHS isn’t a charity.

The National Health Service, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care, is funded out of general taxation. The level of NHS funding in a given year is set by central government through the Spending Review process.

Ultimately, there’s only so much that individuals and businesses can do to support the NHS, but there are ways we can voice our hopes and concerns for the NHS to those in power.

Encourage your employees to stay informed and be active in advocating for the NHS, both inside and outside of work. You could create a dedicated Slack channel for activism ideas, such as sharing petitions and letter templates to send to MPs. These can help apply pressure on the government to adequately fund NHS services and its staff now and into the future.

Politics play a substantial role in deciding how the NHS operates, so make sure that you give your colleagues time off or flexibility to vote each election and have their say.