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Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust on Lewis this week made the biggest one-off donation in its history – and it went to NHS Western Isles, in recognition of the heroism of front line staff and to support islanders suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity, which owns the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK in terms of output and reinvests all its income back in the local community, made a donation of £40,000.
It is the first grant awarded from Point and Sandwick Trust’s newly set up pandemic community fund, announced last month, and NHS Western Isles is now looking at best ways to spend it.
The money is to be mainly used to support front line staff and COVID-19 patients, and will hopefully also benefit cancer patients. Front line staff are to be consulted about ideas and a member of staff within NHS Western Isles has been tasked with leading the decision-making process.
Initial ideas include therapeutic pamper packs, including some local products so the money can be reinvested in island businesses, and emergency items for patients who are admitted in a rush, without personal belongings and without the possibility of receiving them later on from a friend or relative due to the ban on visitors.
Emergency admission items could include nightwear, underwear, toiletries, phone chargers and other essentials.
Consideration is also being given to upgrading rest areas for front line staff and to funding access to external counsellors for staff struggling with the impacts of the pandemic.
If funds allow, some money could also be used to bolster the budget for cancer patients, including island patients in hospitals on the mainland who have been cut off from the family visits that would normally be a source of emotional and physical support.
However, these are all preliminary ideas and NHS Western Isles stressed staff would be very much involved in the decision making.
NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: ‘We have been overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity of businesses, organisations and individuals across our local communities, who have demonstrated such kindness and have pulled together to help at the toughest time we have faced in the history of the health service.
‘The donation from the Point and Sandwick Trust was completely unexpected but so incredibly generous. I would like to thank the trust on behalf of our staff and the health board. We will be involving our staff in deciding how to make the best demonstrable use of this very kind gesture.’