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Help ambulance crews and 999 call handlers this winter as new charity campaign launches

A paramedic who helps 999 call handlers cope with distressing calls is asking Londoners to support London Ambulance Charity’s festive fundraising campaign this December.

As the colder months begin to bite in London our ambulance crews, call handlers and volunteers can expect to face significant pressure trying to help more patients over winter, working tirelessly in the most challenging of circumstances.

Around 75% of our London Ambulance Service staff* have a high exposure to trauma in their line of work, either in person or on the phone. Donations help us care for the needs of our colleagues, and fund initiatives such as our wellbeing café, wellbeing support vehicles, rest areas at ambulance stations, and a staff hardship fund.

There are several ways to get involved, including making a donation instead of posting Christmas cards, taking on a Santa fancy dress fun run, or simply texting in to make a one-off donation. Or you could enter our Winter Prize Draw by making a donation to the campaign page to be in with a chance of winning some amazing prizes.

Paramedic John Stevens, who lives in Clapham, runs the wellbeing café outside our 999 control room at Waterloo.

He said: “All day and night, our call handlers hear from people in desperate need of our help. It might be someone who has witnessed an awful road accident or a mother whose young baby has stopped breathing. They need to stay calm and professional to arrange the help patients need and reassure them, but those calls are understandably stressful.

“Spaces like the wellbeing café can provide a place to regroup after especially emotional 999 calls with a tea, coffee or just an interaction with a supportive colleague, so please donate if you can this December.”

John started at LAS 22 years ago as an emergency medical technician before progressing to become a paramedic, and then worked out of Westminster and Bloomsbury ambulance stations as a duty station officer. He is currently on light duties, which means while he’s away from his day job as paramedic, he is able to staff the wellbeing café.

Having suffered from depression after the death of his mother during the pandemic, he understands how important it is to provide emotional support to staff and volunteers in times of need.

He uses his experience to help call handlers, paramedics and other staff at the Service, offering them a coffee, snack and someone to chat to if they’ve had a difficult day. He also signposts them to mental health support and counselling, which is provided by LAS.

John said: “It’s not all trauma though. As a Crystal Palace supporter, I love chatting to our call handlers and staff about other things like football or classical music, and spreading a bit of happiness. I think it’s just really important to be present and help them when they’re on their break.”

John is thankful to the help of funding from the charity and his management team. He said: “Being back with my colleagues and having a laugh with them has been the best medicine for me.”

London Ambulance Charity also helps to coordinate and run London Ambulance Service’s wellbeing support vehicles which provide refreshments to our crews at hospitals and other sites across the capital, seven days a week.

Jess Burgess, Head of Charity Development at London Ambulance Service, said:

“Our staff and volunteers in the control rooms and out on the road work round the clock to care for Londoners during these tough winter months, often in intense and emotional circumstances. They look after all of us despite whatever they may be going through, so their wellbeing must be supported, whatever their needs.

“By simply making a donation or participating in one of our fundraising initiatives, you can help us fund wellbeing support for our incredibly dedicated colleagues to ensure they in the best physical and mental shape to provide outstanding care to the people of London. With people experiencing difficulties with the cost of living, a small gift could make all the difference.”

To enter our Winter Prize Draw, with prizes including Thames Speedboat experiences, afternoon tea, overnight stays in central London, and delicious hampers, simply make a donation to the campaign page and consent to be contacted – leaving your name, email and phone number.

This information won’t be shared publicly. If you already have a JustGiving account, JustGiving will remember your information – just make sure you’ve agreed for us to contact you. Winners will be drawn on the 20 December.

Go eco-friendly with e-cards and make a donation instead of paying for postage, or even get into the festive spirit by running 4km in a Santa costume for the Santa in the City Run from outside the Tate Modern on 6 and 7 December.

But that’s not all! You can also join us for our ‘Wear it Winter’ day on Thursday 14 December. Wear your favourite wintery jumper, novelty headgear or even just some festive socks and text LASWinter to 70490 to donate £2 to London Ambulance Charity. Don’t forget to share your pictures with us on social media using the hashtag tagging #TeamLAS

More details for each of these can be found online on the campaign’s Just Giving page.

To make a donation this winter text LASJOLLY to 70490 to donate £5 or give online on the Just Giving website. Texts will cost the donation amount plus one standard network rate message, and you’ll be opting into hearing more from us. If you would like to donate but don’t wish to hear more from us, please text LASJOLLYNOINFO instead.

For more information about supporting London Ambulance Charity please visit our website.

*Our figures have been collated by the LAS workforce intelligence unit.

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