Project Wingman flies to Bensham

Posted on Fri, 03/07/2020

The team at project wingman with staff

A volunteer-run project to support NHS workers is taking off and due to land at Bensham Hospital, Gateshead from Monday 6th July.

Project Wingman has been in operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital since the end of May, where furloughed airline crew have been serving refreshments and giving hardworking staff a chance to relax and unwind in a dedicated ‘first class’ lounge.

Staff across the Trust have said that the Wingman lounge has been an amazing sanctuary for people to go and relax, both during and after their shifts. People came from across the Trust on Friday, the project’s last day in the hospital, to enjoy a New Year’s Eve themed party to say goodbye.  And as a thank you for all their efforts, the airline crew were given a guard of honour.

Over the past six weeks, the volunteers of Project Wingman have been on hand to support the wellbeing of staff during the COVID outbreak, as well as provide light relief in challenging times.

They have come up with extremely creative and inventive with ways to keep staff entertained, such as themed weeks, such as school disco events, Christmas week, and spontaneous dance parties. The volunteers also introduced ‘Colleague of the Week’, where staff were nominated for their hard work and the winner was awarded a goody bag.

Captain Alasdair Thorogood, one of the Project Wingman volunteers, said: “The QE experience has been an oasis of kindness and co-operation on pretty much all fronts. The kindness and concern of the staff we are trying to help, the humour of the physio team, the tireless help from hospital management and the devotion and passion of my airline colleagues have all made this an exhilarating yet humbling experience.

“The staff have taken to the idea and many have formed lasting relationships and new friendships as a consequence.  There have been tears, laughter, banter and serious discussions – we hope we’ve fulfilled our mission! Project Wingman’s exceptional airline crew are proud to be putting smiles on the faces of our hardworking NHS colleagues.”

Volunteer Erika said: “It’s been so lovely to see people come in, looking drained from the hard work they’re doing, and when they leave they have a huge smile on their faces. We’ve built friendships and relationships here that will last long after we leave. ”

Take a look at our photo gallery of the Project Wingman lounge

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