Pilots and cabin crew have come together to give a boost to staff at Western Sussex Hospitals by opening Project Wingman lounges at Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
Project Wingman was started at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to enable furloughed, grounded or redundant UK airline personnel a chance to support NHS staff.
The airline volunteers are all trained to communicate in stressful situations and their lounges provide a space for NHS staff to unwind and de-compress while at work.
Former cabin crew Sarah Skelton joined Project Wingman eight weeks ago. She said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to come to Western Sussex Hospitals.
“We never thought Project Wingman would carry on for so long but when you talk to our volunteers they want to put something back into their local hospital.
“Either their children were born here or a family member has been ill and they always say how beautifully well they were cared for. This is our chance to say thank you.”
The lounges are open for any staff member to use and enjoy. Matron Keely Head said: “It is a really lovely treat for the nurses. The volunteers are so friendly and welcoming. It is a nice safe haven to come away for 10-15 minutes out of the day and not have to think about your work.”
Older persons mental health liaison nurse, Launa Rolf, commented: “This is just fantastic. Having external people coming in shows how closely the private and public sectors can work together. I think it is marvellous.”
Chief nurse Maggie Davies was present at both launches. She said: “We are so grateful to Project Wingman for opening up lounges for staff at Western Sussex Hospitals. The generosity of the airline crew volunteering in Worthing and Chichester is humbling.
“The lounges are proving extremely popular and it’s great to see colleagues from our hospitals and the airline industry talk to each other and share experiences. Project Wingman is a brilliant initiative I wish to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved.”