Parents help patients stay in touch with friends and family and provide support for NHS staff

A group of parents have found a way to help isolated hospital patients keep in touch with family and friends.

The group, many of them parents of pupils at Brighton College, have collected 25 iPads and chargers in just a few weeks.

They started collecting them after hearing from staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital that some patients were unable to communicate with friends and relatives.

They worked with the school to form the Brighton Together NHS Staff Support Hub which provides packages of food and personal care products as well as a place to relax after a busy day in ICU.

Romina Arai, one of the parents co-ordinating the project, said that – after speaking to fellow parents working at the hospital – the challenges were clear.

She said: “No matter how sick they are or how old they are, they’re not allowed to have any contact with anybody.

“We’ve had children in hospital who cannot speak to families.

“This creates an enormous amount of anxiety on all sides, so we shouted out for as many iPads and iPhones as possible, with chargers, so patients can communicate with their families.”

The idea expanded to include care packages with snacks to eat during shifts as well as toiletries and groceries because many medical staff have been struggling to reach shops at the end of their shift.

Brighton College is also setting up a rest centre for hospital staff at its nearby pre-prep site.

School spokesman Matthew Beetar said: “It’s been an amazing rallying together of our parents, extended community and our staff. We’re doing whatever we can do to support the hospital.”

Dr Beetar said that the school was working closely with the hospital trust to find out what was needed.

After Easter, the pre-prep site in Eastern Road will also be used to store personal protective equipment as well as the shopping packages and as a place to rest under the banner of Brighton Together.

Brighton College Pre-Prep School with the Royal Sussex County Hospital in the background

Dr Beetar said: “It’s a point of support as a lot of staff finish a late shift and get to the stores and there’s nothing there or they don’t have time to cook.

“They’ll be able to drive by and pick something up. Anaesthetists and ICU nurses will have a lounge space to disconnect from their working day.”

The hub will be open to collect donations from next Wednesday (15 April) and people will be able to drop items off on weekdays from 7am to 6pm.

Any donated iPads need to be fully functioning, with a charger, and cleared of personal information.

Grocery care packages – No nuts. Pasta, pasta sauce, tinned food (soup, fish, tomatoes, meat and beans), long-life milk, breakfast cereal, cooking oil, olive oil, rice, couscous, stock cubes, condiments, herbs, spices, long-life fruit juice, squash, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, sugar, biscuits.

Working day care packages – No nuts. Healthy snacks, protein bars, granola bars, chocolate bars, fruit juice cartons, fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), boxes of individually wrapped chocolates and sweets.

Toiletry care packages – Toothpaste, sanitary products, deodorant spray or sticks, make-up wipes, hand cream, face cream, lip balm, gel insoles for shoes and foot spa cream.

For online updates on what is needed, visit

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