5 June 2020
This week has seen another monstrous effort from the #PoweringTheNHS volunteers as the total number of meals delivered has surpassed the 45,000 mark.
The team were extremely humbled to be nominated for a shout out for Volunteers Week on Wednesday evening’s edition of The One Show, which was testament to all the hard work that has gone in.
Alex James has been one of those putting in the hard yards over the last 10 weeks and has been pivotal to the seamless execution of the initiative.
“It has been an enjoyable experience and a great initiative and idea from Edward (Crossan). After hearing what it was all about both James (Molyneux) and I were keen to get involved and support in some way through this pandemic, and this was our way of contributing to the amazing work the NHS have done and continue to do.
“It has been a thoroughly rewarding project. We have worked every day along with Bogdan, Fiona, Bill and Sonia and the many volunteers who have turned up, grafted and done it with a smile on their face which has been great.”
Alex has tried his hand at everything, from chopping the vegetables, packaging the food, and delivering to hospitals where he has witnessed first-hand how tough this battle has been for NHS staff.
“I have been lucky enough to do the full journey and sample each role at some point throughout the process. This has included creating meals, the logistics and the meal deliveries. Week by week it has been humbling to see the effect this has had on some hospitals and the realisation of how hard they have been hit.
“I’ve seen exhausted nurses and doctors coming out for a five-minute break to collect the food right during the peak of the pandemic which really brought home what they were dealing with. The exhaustion etched on their faces and seeing them in their PPE really opened our eyes up to what they were going through, which reinforced the reason we were doing what we were with the meals.”
It certainly has had a powerful impact on Alex and the team, with Alex forging relationships with staff at the majority of the hospitals.
“I’ve directly liaised with the contacts at the hospitals and gained feedback from them, they have been very grateful for the meals and it has been our pleasure to do it.”
Alex has also been instrumental in managing the many volunteers from the London Irish squad who have given their time to help deliver the meals. The sheer number of volunteers showing the personalities we have involved at our club.
“What this club is about has really come to the fore during these times and the amount of players that have given up their time and staff as well all collectively coming together to do something great, has been awesome.”
Edward Crossan, Vice Chairman of Powerday and the individual behind this initiative is immensely proud of what Alex has achieved.
“Alex has been an integral part of keeping this initiative going throughout the last 10 weeks. Without his dedication and that of the wider team, we would not have been able to achieve what we have.”
James Molyneux is another unsung hero of this effort who has worked tirelessly every day to ensure meal numbers are hit. In his usual role, James heads up the club’s analysis department and he has likened this project, and how it has operated, to his job within the rugby department.
“I think it is very similar to what we do as a job, it is just getting behind a different team, the only difference is we are not playing rugby, we are trying to help out other people.
“People like Boggy (Bogdan Konecki) who needs people to chop and prepare the food that allows him to get on and actually make the meals. Ultimately, we are helping someone to help someone else and that is our main aim here.
“In terms of just getting on with it, that is just the attitude that we all have, and we are all in it together. It is great we have an owner that wants to support and make a difference during these hard times.”
Managing some of the logistics of this project has been James’ forte, such as sorting out the label-maker which was his first job, as he explains.
“The first day I came in I was trying to put a label maker together. That day we made 170 meals, whereas now we are making over 1000 meals a day. We have not always got it right, but we have learned, and it has led to what is now a very smooth operation.
“That comes down to all the volunteers coming in and doing their bit. We have a process, but you can’t do it if people don’t come in and help out, so it is massive credit to everyone that has been involved and allowed us to do this.”
The team environment and the cohesion the group have had, is what James will look back on most fondly when this project has finished.
“When we look back on this in the future, I think we will know we did our bit. We have also been able to connect and get to know people that we work with that perhaps we didn’t know so well before. I’ve always seen Boggy and said hello, but over the last couple of months I have got to know him really well as well as Fiona and the rest of the staff.
“We have come together collectively to achieve a common goal I’m really thankful for that.”