An exhibition celebrating the role charities have played in supporting the NHS throughout its history has kicked off this week, featuring stories from nurses about how funding has improved their workplaces.
The event, Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS, has opened at Saatchi Gallery in London to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS this year.
“We see things that people wouldn’t see in a lifetime”
As well as NHS staff, the exhibition features celebrities who have backed NHS charity work, including comic actor Michael Palin and England footballer Jordan Henderson
It is being run by NHS Charities Together, which represents more than 230 charities that provide funding to NHS trusts, and takes place from 31 May until 11 June.
Jess Shield, a ward sister at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is one of the case studies in the exhibition.
The 37-year-old has worked at her trust since she was 21, and said in her time working there charity funding had transformed pastoral care for staff.
“On the neurological trauma ward, we deal with the most harrowing circumstances every single day,” Ms Shield said.
“Including road accidents, assaults, brain injuries, attempted suicides and more. We see things that people wouldn’t see in a lifetime and our staff can suffer with a level of post-traumatic stress or have panic attacks as a result.
“Thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together, Newcastle Hospitals Charity was able to put in place a staff psychologist, who provides one-on-one counselling and group support for anyone who is struggling.”
Ms Shield added that protecting the wellbeing of the NHS workforce had become even more important in the face of increasing service pressures.
Photography at the exhibition, including of the nurses featured, is by renowned photographer John Rankin Waddell, known as Rankin, who has previously worked with The Queen and David Bowie.
Also featured is Caroline Hogg, a staff nurse at Margaret Kerr palliative care unit, which was built thanks to legacy money left by former nurse Margaret Kerr, and now cares for around 200 people every year.
Ms Hogg said money from donations had allowed her team to go the extra mile, organising weddings and other special events for palliative care patients.
She added: “Working at the Margaret Kerr palliative care unit, I work with specialists to ensure patients receive the best level of care, individual to their needs.
“When patients are admitted, they often express a sense of calm, and it’s truly a privilege to have such a facility.
“The staff and community pulled together to make it happen following this amazing legacy, and because of this we can go above and beyond for patients experiencing the most distressing circumstances.
“We have arranged weddings, parties and family gatherings, and it’s always so special. You can see it means the world to them, and none of it would be possible if it wasn’t for charitable donations.”
The exhibit also features big names, including Mr Palin – best known for his role in Monty Python – who was photographed to celebrate the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering, part-funded by the Whittington Health Charity.
Nafisat Ibrahim, a nurse from London whose childhood was impacted significantly by stammering, regularly attends the centre to talk to children about their experiences.
Ms Ibrahim was photographed alongside Mr Palin, who said: “My father had quite a serious stammer and when he grew up no one was able to do anything about it.
“You take it a bit for granted so I think it’s good sometimes to remember it needs help”
“I think it would have changed his life immeasurably if he’d been able to have the treatment that the Michael Palin Centre now provide.
“I was born a little bit before the NHS started, but throughout my life it’s been an enormous support for me and my family.
“You take it a bit for granted so I think it’s good sometimes to remember it needs help. And I think the more people who can help out the better, because so many people have benefitted.”
Elsewhere in the exhibit there are stories from doctors and other NHS staff, such as Dr Aziz Abdul.
Dr Abdul, an Afghani refugee, was separated from his mother aged five at gunpoint, and now supports charity-funded trauma care having previously worked as a specialist registrar during the pandemic.
It also celebrates mental health projects funded by charity work, including More than Football, which uses football to aid in suicide prevention and mental health crises in men.
NHS Charities Together ambassador Mr Henderson was photographed with Matt Kennard, who previously used the project.
Ahead of the opening of the exhibition, Ellie Orton, chief executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “It’s been utterly inspiring meeting the people involved in this project and hearing their stories.
“NHS charities have been contributing to our health service since before its inception – and this project makes clear the phenomenal impact they have had and are still having today.”