Last week saw the launch of Project Wingman which brings airline crews from across UK airlines together to help support the well-being of frontline NHS staff dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.
The project recreates the atmosphere of an airline lounge to help Doctors, Nurses and Health Professionals unwind and get some refreshments in between sessions on hospital wards.
Initially launched at Whittington Hospital in North London, the project has now rolled out in 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.
Professor Rob Bor, Consultant Clinical psychologist said: “We want to look after the well-being of all of all frontline NHS staff
“We immediately thought of airline staff and reached out to them to support us. Many airline crews have been grounded by the global effects of COVID-19 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.”
Around 12000 volunteers are already involved from airlines including Norwegian, Easyjet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, TUI, Flybe, Jet2 and Loganair.
Billal Draifi is a Norwegian Long Haul Cabin Crew member and also 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.”
Volunteers on the project don’t work directly with patients but support staff in a number of practical ways so they can do their job effectively by using the unique skills gained from the airline industry such as problem solving and calming techniques to help manage stressful and pressurised situations. They are also there to offer a listening ear, comfort and kindness when NHS staff need it most.
Although currently only in the UK, similair projects are planned in the US, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.