Former NHS Lothian boss says: 'Let's give a fiver to show our gratitude when we get our jags'
Former NHS Lothian chair Brian Houston and his family have launched the "Get Vax, Give Back" initiative and are inviting donors to choose one of five charities to give to.
They hope as the vaccine is rolled out, more and more people will donate £5 when they get their jag and help make a difference to struggling families and others badly affected by the pandemic and the resulting restrictions.
It just involves visiting the campaign’s website – www.highfiver.co.uk/ – clicking on a “Donate your fiver” button, selecting a charity and being taken to a JustGiving page. The charities taking part are the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks; mental health charity Mind; homelessness charity Crisis; older people’s organisation Age UK; and children’s charity Barnardo’s.
Mr Houston, 72, who stepped down as chair of NHS Lothian board last year, said the idea for the campaign came from his ex-wife Heather Davidson, also 72.
He said: "Heather called me up – she's a medical research scientist so she knows quite a lot of folk involved in the vaccine research – and said she had come up with this idea that people were going to be so relieved and grateful to get vaccinated and hopefully start to head back towards normality, why don't we ask them to say a thank-you by giving some money to folk that have suffered even more than the rest of us?”
The rest of the family were quickly enlisted. Youngest daughter Carla, a graphic designer based in London, designed a website for the initiative. She and her brother Gareth took charge of social media promotion. And older daughter Lisa, who has decades of experience working with grassroots community groups and international organisations, contributed her expertise.
Mr Houston said: “The essence was just to keep it very simple, saying: 'Isn’t it great getting your jab, so get your jab and stick a fiver in the pot for people who need it'.”
The family has not gone for a big launch, but just started sharing the details on social media and via email.
The initiative is intended to be UK-wide, though Mr Houston said since most of the family’s friends and contacts were in Scotland it was so far mainly operating here.
And he said there would not necessarily be huge sums raised immediately. “It’s likely to be a fairly slow burn because the vaccine programme doesn’t really hit the high volume population until a bit later.”
He said the charities benefiting from the campaign could be reassessed as time goes on to make sure help was going where it was most needed.
The campaign website invites people to show their support by making their own “high five” poster and displaying it in their window.
And people can contact the campaign at www.highfiver.co.uk