How a community donated car helped London's community nurses

As part of the operations team at Karshare I’m privileged to meet some truly remarkable people – not just car owners who selflessly donate their cars to people who can use them, but also the inspirational healthcare workers going above and beyond to help people during this Coronavirus crisis.

Karen Jackson manages the district and community nurses operating out of one of central London’s key NHS Trust hospitals. Having worked on wards for many years she now looks after the emotional, physical and professional needs of the large community team – a difficult and sometimes complex role at the best of times, Covid-19 crisis aside.

Karen approached us initially because she thought a car could really help support the PPE task; the NHS already do a tremendous job distributing essential PPE to the community nurses, but having a car to plug any holes – re-distributing PPE according to changing needs, being agile and speedy with new and unexpected requests – would make a huge difference to this critical effort.

We were delighted to help.

We matched Karen up with an owner’s car from London – and little did we know that PPE would be just a part of the difference this car would make…

To help with the huge demands made of these amazing community nurses, the Trust has set up ‘wellbeing zones’ where staff can rest and rechange. Karen has been able to take food parcels, pamper and sleep-aid packs, personal care essentials and fresh fruit and vegetables to her teams with her donated vehicle, and re-distribute them where needed. With teams spread out over South London this is a sizeable task – and clearly very important.

Yeo Valley recently donated thousands of plants destined for the (now cancelled) Chelsea Flower Show to the Trust; Karen was able to coordinate and take these plants out to various community sites, including a rehab unit where staff have now included their re-planting as part of the patients’ rehabilitation programme.

It would usually take Karen around 50 minutes on public transport to visit her sites in South London – she’s now able to get around all her services and staff in the area much quicker, and is in fact taking her manager along with her next week so she has a chance to see the teams – something that could not have been possible due to time pressures without the car.

Our NHS is stretched and tested during times like these. Karen’s own experience managing the complex needs of a huge community team has been challenging; nurses and carers are often emotionally exhausted, even though their physical energy levels are coping with the workload. Despite this Karen has been touched by the camaraderie and spirit of unity.

“What’s been wonderful to see is how the teams have knitted together, are looking out for each other and continue to check in with each other – this is how we pull together as a community” - Karen Jackson

And not just the teams. The willingness of the public to help – selflessly and generously – such as with the donation of their idle vehicles to support our frontline workers, has moved and touched Karen and her colleagues.

“Sharing a car during this time has a real two-way benefit; the owner of my donated car left me a lovely note thanking me for the work I was doing, and I sent her a text to let her know how grateful we are as a team that her car could help us so much. I’ve kept aside some plants from the flowers donation for her which I hope she loves.”  - Karen Jackson

A huge shout-out to Karen and all the wonderful NHS staff – we’re humbled and grateful to be able to help in any way.