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UEA medical students offering free childcare to support NHS workers

PUBLISHED: 16:08 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:09 31 March 2020

UEA students are providing childcare for key healthcare workers. Inset, Jessica Huddleston (left) and Tanya Ta. Photos: Tanya Ta/JessicaHuddleston/Getty

UEA students are providing childcare for key healthcare workers. Inset, Jessica Huddleston (left) and Tanya Ta. Photos: Tanya Ta/JessicaHuddleston/Getty

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A group of medical students in Norwich are providing free childcare to NHS staff to support the health services’s efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Tanya Ta is helping to run Helping Hands East Anglia to provide childcare to NHS staff. Photo: Tanya TaTanya Ta is helping to run Helping Hands East Anglia to provide childcare to NHS staff. Photo: Tanya Ta

Trainee doctors, nurses and therapists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have had their courses put on hold due to the national lockdown.

But they have come together to provide relief to the region’s hard-working NHS staff, offering free childcare for key workers so staff can continue working despite school and nursery closures.

The group, Helping Hands East Anglia, is the eastern arm of a national movement to bring together medical students and the families of healthcare workers, who are facing long hours and shift changes at short notice.

And they are already caring for children across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and North Essex - with over 50 student volunteers.

Jessica Huddleston is helping to run Helping Hands East Anglia to provide childcare to NHS staff. Photo: Jessica HuddlestonJessica Huddleston is helping to run Helping Hands East Anglia to provide childcare to NHS staff. Photo: Jessica Huddleston

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Students present their medical school ID and confirmed DBS check to the families beforehand, and the volunteers have been given exemptions from the lockdown to operate the scheme.

Tanya Ta, a final-year UEA medical student, who runs the scheme alongside Jessica Huddleston and Shinjal Sharma. On top of overseeing the scheme, said: “We actually started talking about this a couple of weeks before the coronavirus crisis really started to hit the UK.

“We could see it starting to build elsewhere and knew if the worst happened our NHS staff would still need to go to work – but how would they do that if they were worrying about loved ones.”

Miss Ta, who is volunteering at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) as a clinical assistant, added: “We have made the arrangements as secure as we possibly can but we’re not an official childcare provider.

READ MORE: ‘We are all united’ - Team spirit helps junior doctors battling coronavirus

“We’re just trying to help those who are providing so much help for others in the most effective way we can. I’m pleased to say that so far we’ve had really positive feedback from parents, children and student volunteers.”

NHS staff who need childcare should fill in the childcare request form, available on the Facebook group Helping Hands Relief Childcare for Doctors/Nurses/HCPs COVID-19 East Anglia.

The group are recruiting for UEA students with enhanced DBS checks and/or childcare experience to help NHS staff.

• To contact Helping Hands Relief Childcare East Anglia, or to volunteer as a UEA student, email reliefchildcarenhseastanglia@gmail.com.

READ MORE: University of East Anglia cancels graduations due to coronavirus outbreak


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