A ward sister at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary is featuring alongside Monty Python legend Michael Palin and England and Liverpool footballer Jordan Henderson in a new exhibition from Rankin and NHS Charities Together, celebrating 75 years of NHS charities.
Jess Shield, 37, from County Durham, is one of 14 NHS staff, patients and volunteers starring in ‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’– which celebrates the vital role charities have played throughout the health service’s history, ahead of the NHS’ 75th anniversary on 5th July. Led by NHS Charities Together, the national charity caring for the NHS, and internationally renowned photographer Rankin, all portraits will be displayed at Saatchi gallery in London from 31st May- 11th June.
Jess has worked at Newcastle Hospitals since she was 21. Now caring for patients on the Neurological Trauma Critical Care Ward, alongside her team she is exposed to some of the most distressing circumstances every single day – and as a result has become an important advocate for NHS Charities Together funded mental health support for the workforce.
During and post-pandemic, Jess worked closely with psychological services for her team, providing trauma debriefs to colleagues and accessing some of the services herself – including a staff psychologist funded by NHS Charities Together and Newcastle Hospitals Charity.
Jess said: “On the Neurological Trauma ward we deal with the most harrowing circumstances every single day – 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. We are all so passionate and proud to do our jobs, but need help at times – charity support gives us the extra tools we need to protect our mental health.”
There are over 230 NHS charities in the UK, and together they help our health service go further than would be possible with government funding alone. They fund innovative research and pioneering new technologies, accommodation and support to make hospital feel less like hospital, and extra services so more of us can access better care. Everyone involved in the exhibition has a powerful personal connection to the impact of NHS charities.
Other stories on display include Dr Aziz Abdul from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust – the Afghan refugee separated from his mother aged five at gunpoint, who went on to become a specialist registrar on the frontline during the pandemic, and now advocates for trauma support funded by NHS Charities Together – to Beryl Fairclough, 76 – the brains behind Barnsley Hospital Charity’s fundraising dream team ‘the Sensational Six’, who use their unmatched knitting skills to raise thousands for new NHS equipment, facilities and services locally – and Stefan Edmondson, a Consultant Clinical Scientist at University Hospitals Birmingham, who helped lead the reconstructive surgery for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai after she was shot in the head by the Taliban. The UHB team’s pioneering work is only possible thanks to 3D printers funded by University Hospitals Birmingham Charity.
Rankin, who has photographed the likes of the Queen, David Bowie, Madonna and Kate Moss, adds: “The thing I’ve learned from all these people is how much of a massive contribution NHS charities make to the national health service. You don’t realise the scale of support that’s out there – they fund research and new technologies, accommodation and support for patients, and extra services so more of us can access better care. I used to work in the NHS but honestly had no idea, and it really has been eye opening.”
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “It’s been incredibly inspiring meeting Jess, and hearing her story. 75 years after the NHS was founded, charity support has never been more important, and with your help we can continue to help the NHS for generations to come. On 5 July, you can support the charity that means the most to you and celebrate 75 years of the NHS by hosting an NHS Big Tea party. We hope some of these stories show the astonishing impact one person’s generosity can have.”
Teri Bayliss, Charity Director at Newcastle Hospitals Charity said: “It has been incredibly important to support Newcastle Hospitals staff over the last few years. Supporting the work of a staff psychologist using the NHS Charities Together funding has been a key project in supporting wellbeing and is just one of the many ways Newcastle Hospitals Charity can support the health and wellbeing of patients, people and the wider communities of Newcastle Hospitals. It is only with your continued support that we can keep doing this vital work.”
‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ will be exhibited at the Saatchi gallery in London from 31st May – 11th June 2023 and is free to the public.
To find out more information about how you can support your local NHS charity visit www.nhsbigtea.co.uk