Edinburgh hospital ward 'completely overwhelmed' with donations of pyjamas and toiletries for patients

Many patients are admitted with no supplies.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 7:13 am

Local people and businesses have rallied round to give donations of pyjamas, slippers and toiletries to coronavirus patients at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The majority of patients are admitted with just the clothes they are wearing, and family members are not allowed to visit them, leaving many without supplies.

The ward has been ‘completely overwhelmed’ with donations, said clinical support worker Jade Campbell, after hundreds of people got in touch to help.

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Jade Campbell has coordinated the donations

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The collection began in Bonnyrigg but quickly spread, with people from all over the city offering to help.

A part-time Bonnyrigg DJ, Billy Dempsey, has also offered to buy more clothes for donation using the £7,200 raised by a ‘90s night’ he broadcast on Facebook Live on Saturday night in aid of the NHS.

There have been donations of pyjamas and other items of clothing from Tesco in Musselburgh, Colinton, Corstorphine, Hermiston Gait, Dalkeith and Penicuik.

“We must have had £500 or £600 worth of pyjamas, socks, slippers and underwear donated,” said Ms Campbell, who has been coordinating the donations.

“It’s been phenomenal, really overwhelming. The people of Bonnyrigg and the surrounding area have been amazing.”

The donations will help patients to feel ‘more comfortable’ in their new surroundings, said Ms Campbell.

“Most patients are coming in with nothing at all. If you’ve got someone who’s older then a lot of them rely on their families to help them, but families are not allowed to visit.

“A pair of warm cosy pyjamas when you’re in hospital can make a big difference to someone’s life.”

The ward has had so many donations that Ms Campbell is now struggling to find space to store them in the hospital.

However, she believes that there will soon be an increased demand as more Covid-19 patients will arrive.

Toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, shampoo, conditioner and bodywash are also among the items donated, as well as a couple of iPads, so that patients can keep in touch with family members who are not allowed to visit.

“Once this is all over we thought we could donate them to someone else that needs it, like a charity or one of the schools,” said Ms Campbell.

Billy Dempsey, a painter and decorator who also works as a DJ with his firm City Discos at weekends, raised more than £7,000 in an online fundraiser for the NHS, part of which he will donate to Jade Campbell’s effort.

“We thought we would raise £500 of something, we were just blown away by the support. It’s been unreal,” said his wife Louise Dempsey, who also took part in the broadcast.

“We’re just delighted with it.”

Mr Dempsey, 45, whose DJ gigs have been cancelled up until July because of the coronavirus outbreak, decided to run a Facebook Live 80s night last week as a ‘bit of fun’.

“People were getting in touch with us saying they wanted to give money for it, so we said why not do it as a fundraiser for the NHS,” said Ms Dempsey.

The couple set up a PayPal account for donations, and had raised £800 before the event even started.

Now they are planning what to do with the money.

“Obviously £7,000 is a substantial amount of money, and the logistics of going to shops and buying things to donate is not easy,” said Ms Dempsey.

The couple will begin with Jade Campbell’s ward at the ERI, and donate clothes including men’s pyjamas.

They will also buy a toaster and cutlery for the staff room.

“We’re then going to get in touch with as many wards as possible, and the Sick Kids as well” Ms Dempsey said.

They also plan to donate to official NHS charities.

“We’re trying to work out how we can best go about things and get as much distributed as possible. We want to make sure we spread the money between different wards,” Ms Dempsey added.

Her husband may do another live DJ event, but it will not become a weekly event as some fans have requested.

The last broadcast was watched by people across the world, in Germany, Australia, Abu Dhabi and the US.

“Music is his life, he’s been doing this since he was 15,” said Ms Dempsey.

“He wanted to do something to bring people music and fun.”

Almost 4,000 people commented on a video of the live broadcast from 7pm on Saturday night.

Several happy e-revellers got in touch with the Evening News to share their delight in the event.

“I listened to him from 7pm right through till midnight when he stopped. Was a great night,” said Lauren Wynne.

“They raised an amazing amount for an amazing cause. We had a fantastic night in with the kids and our friends, from the comfort of all our own homes,” said Nicola Klan.

“Great community spirit pulling together to raise funds for the NHS while lifting everyone’s spirits at this horrible and uncertain time.”

NHS Lothian suspended hospital visits last week as a measure to combat the spread of Covid-19 and protect staff and vulnerable patients.

Visits are only allowed to children, patients receiving end of life care, and for one person to accompany a partner during childbirth.

These visits will only be allowed after speaking to senior charge nurses or midwives.

It comes after a £1 million online fundraiser was launched for NHS Lothian.

The JustGiving page set up by Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation, an NHS charity, has so far raised £125,000.

The charity supports patients, staff and visitors at hospitals in the NHS Lothian area including the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the Western General, the Sick Kids and St Johns Livingston.