Volunteer delivers more than 4,000 meals to hospital staff during lockdown

A volunteer for a homeless charity has raised £7,000 and delivered more than 4,000 meals to hospital staff.

Ali Walji from Norbury set up a GoFundMe page to provide meals for NHS front line workers as well as London’s homeless people.

He had hoped to raise £1,000 initially, but the current fundraising figure stands at more than 7,000.

He and a team of helpers have delivered food to staff at Croydon, St George’s, St Thomas’s, King’s College, St Helier’s, and Charing Cross hospitals, as well as further afield to Kingston, St Bartholomew’s, Newham, Royal London and Homerton hospitals.

The first 400 fresh vegetarian biryanis – made by chef Syed Abidi from Shahi Caterers – were delivered to NHS key workers at Croydon University Hospital on April 12.

A further 400 went to staff at St George’s hospital in Tooting at Easter.

A further 5,200 meals were delivered to 11 hospitals and to feed the city’s homeless people.

Ali, a volunteer for homeless charity Who Is Hussain, said: “Having seen the struggle since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I brought it upon myself to help NHS front line workers at my three local hospitals.

“I initially only aimed to raise £1,000 to feed 850 staff, but the GoFundMe page has raised more than eight times that.”

Once it was clear the plan needed to be upscaled, Ali collaborated with Who Is Hussain to help with the logistics of distribution.

He added: “The front line NHS staff are doing incredible work in a difficult situation and we are all supportive of them. Our small gesture of thanks for their efforts can never repay their self-sacrifice.

“I am also truly speechless by the generosity of donors to exceed the initial target.

“In these times, where some have been made redundant, have been furloughed or are working extra hours, shifts in supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals or are working from home and looking after kids, they all still donated.

“It is altruism at its highest and one of the lessons we learn from Hussain on giving from what we love the most for the betterment of society.

“We cannot forget the homeless of London also as footfall reduces and they need our help, too.”

Matthew Kershaw, chief executive at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the people of Croydon and we’d like to say thank you to everyone who has delivered treats for our teams.

“Our staff are working incredibly hard and in unprecedented circumstances. From our doctors and nurses to our radiographers and therapists, right through to our estates and IT teams, every area of the Trust is working around the clock, playing their part to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care.

“These donations are helping to keep teams well-fed, energised and ready to respond to the challenges that Covid-19 brings.”



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