Airline crews from across the industry have come together to form Project Wingman, to support the well-being of frontline British NHS staff during the COVID19 outbreak.
Project Wingman was launched in the UK on Friday 3rd April at the Whittington Hospital in North London.
A Wider Difference
In just under a week, the project has now branched out to North Middlesex, Basildon, Southend and Mid-Essex, and potentially to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, Worthing, Frimley Park and York in the coming days.
The project creates the atmosphere of a small airline lounge for doctors, nurses and Allied Health Professionals, providing them with refreshments, a chance to unwind, decompress and unload or simply have a conversation with a fellow professional who is used to the pressures of working in a stressful environment.
There are currently over 1200 volunteer crew from different UK airlines, including Norwegian, easyJet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, TUI, Flybe, Jet2 and Loganair - on hand to help NHS staff during and after their shifts throughout the day.
“We want to look after the wellbeing of all frontline NHS staff,” said Professor Rob Bor, Consultant Clinical psychologist.
“We immediately thought of airline staff and reached out to them to support us,” Bor added.
Utilizing the Airline Crews Workforce
Many airline crews have been grounded by the global effects of COVID19 and we recognised that this represents a rich resource of a uniformed and disciplined workforce, used to problem-solving and providing care.
”We called on Captain Dave Fielding of British Airways and Captain Emma Henderson of easyJet, and between them, they have sent out a 'call to arms' to all aircrew across every airline regardless of brand.”
Billal Draifi, of Norwegian Long Haul Cabin Crew, is an integral part of the recruitment team for Project Wingman and is in charge of the training and induction of new crew volunteers:
“Frontline NHS staff are doing an incredible job under immense pressure and we are doing everything that we can to support and help them throughout this unprecedented situation. Throughout the day my colleagues and I are proud to wear our Norwegian uniforms and to be joined by other airline colleagues from across the industry as part of Project Wingman.”
Supporting the Staff
Volunteer airline crew do not work directly with patients, they support staff in a number of practical ways so they can do their job effectively by using their unique skills in problem-solving and calming techniques learned from their training for managing stressful and high-pressure situations. Above all, they will be offering a listening ear, comfort and kindness when staff need it most.
Project Wingman is in the process of expanding and offering similar services to hospital staff in the US, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia.
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