Healthcare Heroes: Meet The South Western Ambulance Charity

July 12, 2020

By Frances Lucraft

Interview by Lucy Noon, written and edited by Nicole Sourry

We recently celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, at a time when the heroic daily actions of healthcare professionals and volunteers has never mattered more. To show our support, we’ve sent thousands of free Grace & Green organic and plastic-free pads, tampons, and liners to healthcare trusts up and down the country, as well as giving 10% of our online profits to providing free period products to NHS trusts.

The South Western Ambulance Charity is one of the amazing organisations that have received free products from Grace & Green to put in ambulance stations and hub bathrooms across the South West. We caught up with the Head of Charity, Zoe Larter, to learn more about this organisation, key messages for the public, and ways to get involved.

For those who don’t know, can you tell us about the South Western Ambulance Charity and what you do…

The aim of the South Western Ambulance Charity is to go the extra mile for the staff, volunteers and communities served by the South Western Ambulance Service. Although the Ambulance Service is funded by the government through the NHS, there is always a need for extra money to provide an even better service to patients.

We do this in three main ways:

We support our exceptional people
The Staying Well Service provides our staff and volunteers with access to sources of help and support with their physical and mental health and wellbeing. The importance of having a confidential lifeline for those people who are, by the very nature of the work they do, often exposed to traumatic and disturbing events, can’t be underestimated.

The Staying Well Service is funded by the South Western Ambulance Service with charitable income used to extend the support and services available to our exceptional people.

The charity also provides training and development bursaries to support the personal development of our staff and volunteers.

We support our volunteer heroes
Community First Responders operate within the communities in which they live or work, providing lifesaving emergency aid early and ahead of ambulance arrival.

The South Western Ambulance Service is supported by over 800 Community First Responder volunteers, attending around 40,000 incidents each year – helping to save lives, reduce pain and provide reassurance to those requiring emergency care.

Charitable donations are used to support our volunteer heroes by funding equipment and training over and above that provided by the Trust.

We support our communities
The South Western Ambulance Charity is supporting defibrillator placement, maintenance and training across the 10,000 square miles served by the Trust.

Increased public access to defibrillators results in more people receiving a life-saving shock as quickly as possible, giving them the best possible chance of survival.

Being a charity that runs on donations, has the way you fundraise been impacted?

As with many other charities, a lot of our planned fundraising for 2020 has been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the communities we serve in the South West. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated, either money to the charity, or care packages and gifts to our exceptional Ambulance personnel.

The South Western Ambulance Charity is a beneficiary of NHS Charities Together, the national membership organisation for NHS Charities that represents, champions and supports the work of more than 230 member charities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Charities Together launched an urgent appeal to provide support to NHS staff, volunteers and patients who have been affected by Covid-19.

The South Western Ambulance Charity has received an initial grant of £66,500 from the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 appeal fund which is being used to provide gifts to our staff and community first responders to enhance their health and wellbeing.

The Charity will be applying for additional grants from NHS Charities Together to provide focused support to those staff and volunteers who are, and have been, disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and to provide longer term recovery support to all of our staff and volunteers after the pandemic.

If there is one key message that you would like to relay to the public what would this be?

We are asking the public to please follow the government guidance. 

Please protect yourself and others by:

  • washing your hands more often
  • using soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 please arrange to get tested by visiting this link, or by calling 111.

What can individuals reading this do to support the South Western Ambulance Service or how can they apply to become volunteers?

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from the South Western Ambulance Service in the form of a charitable gift, you can make a donation online by clicking here.

Or you can send a cheque, made out to “SW Ambul SVC Trust Fund” to South Western Ambulance Charity, c/o SWASFT, Abbey Court, Eagle Way, Exeter, Devon EX2 7HY.

If you would like to support your local community and make it a safer place to live by becoming a Community First Responder, please view our current vacancies here. 

To find out more information about the South Western Ambulance Charity please visit our website, like/follow us on facebook (@swambulancecharity) or twitter (@swa_charity), email us at [email protected] or call us on 0300 369 0108.