Staff at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) have been enjoying a first class traveller experience thanks to furloughed airline cabin crew staff.
Aircrew who have been grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic have been volunteering as part of Project Wingman to help NHS staff take a break from their work, providing a space where they can relax and de-stress.
Part of the new Fern Centre at NDDH has temporarily been turned into a lounge by the cabin crew, offering offer free drinks in an airport lounge experience. Social distancing measures are in place and the crew adhere to strict capacity rules.
Around 150 staff per day have been using the facility during their breaks.
Furloughed, grounded, or made redundant as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the aircrew volunteering for Project Wingman find themselves in the unexpected circumstances of having the skills and time to help those most in need of a smile. Aircrew are all trained in human factors and how to communicate with colleagues who are in stressful situations.
Ian Roome, Head of Over and Above (NDHT Trust charity) and volunteering at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is an amazing gesture from all the airlines taking part in Project Wingman here at North Devon District Hospital.
“I would encourage all our staff to visit the facility and be served refreshments from our very own mock Airport Lounge.”
Emma Henderson, Co-Founder of Project Wingman, said: “As many of our pilots and cabin crew are currently grounded or on a reduced duties due to coronavirus, we wanted to focus our efforts on giving back to the NHS heroes who are working tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re so pleased to be able to offer the Project Wingman service at Barnstaple Hospital; it’s very rewarding to see that the relaxing space is making a difference to the hard-working teams.”