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Tate & Lyle supporting Newham NHS workers amid record sugar production during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 17:15 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 06 May 2020

Newham Hospital children’s rainbow centre team members with a cake baked by colleague Hamera Elahi. Picture: Barts Charity

Newham Hospital children’s rainbow centre team members with a cake baked by colleague Hamera Elahi. Picture: Barts Charity

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With production surging during lockdown, Tate & Lyle Sugars is giving back to the community by supporting NHS workers and charities.

Gavin Ashby on the sugar production line at the Tate & Lyle Thames Refinery. Picture: Tate & LyleGavin Ashby on the sugar production line at the Tate & Lyle Thames Refinery. Picture: Tate & Lyle

Its Thames sugar refinery and Plaistow Wharf golden syrup factory in Royal Docks are still running - with strict safety measures and social distancing in place - as staff work hard to meet a spike in demand.

With far more people baking at home than usual, Tate & Lyle employees are taking on extra shifts, sugar packing lines are working 24 hours and new production records are being set.

But they aren’t the only ones working tirelessly around the clock during the pandemic, and the company has not forgotten the community where it has been producing sugar and syrup for the past 140 years.

Tate & Lyle Sugars donated £25,000 to the Barts Charity emergency Covid-19 appeal to support frontline NHS workers at Newham Hospital and others in east London.

Ken Wells at Tate & Lyle Sugars, which is breaking production records during lockdown. Picture: Tate & LyleKen Wells at Tate & Lyle Sugars, which is breaking production records during lockdown. Picture: Tate & Lyle

The appeal is providing urgently needed practical items for staff in their day-to-day work, enhancing patients’ care experience, and funding a range of wellbeing initiatives.

Tate & Lyle Sugars senior vice president Gerald Mason said: “Our employees in our two factories in east London are working flat out to keep the nation fed, and they know they can rely on their local hospital.

“This money is going towards making the lives of the NHS workers there a little better while they are working such long and tough hours away from home.”

The emergency appeal has raised £1.6million so far, including more than £300,000 worth of donations through the Barts Charity Just Giving page.

Manager of the Stratford ward at Newham Hospital, Petra Francis. Picture: Barts CharityManager of the Stratford ward at Newham Hospital, Petra Francis. Picture: Barts Charity

That money has paid for iPads for patients in isolations wards to help them keep in touch with loved ones, walkie-talkies and stethoscopes for staff working in isolation rooms, and the production of 3D-printed reusable protective visors.

It has also funded wellbeing hubs - one of which opened at Newham Hospital last week - to help workers unwind after long shifts, as well as bikes to enable staff get to and from work safely and quickly.

Next, Barts Charity is looking to fund longer-term mental health, emotional and other support for staff.

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Newham Hospital’s Stratford ward manager Petra Francis said: “Tate & Lyle’s support is such a boost to our staff working so hard in really challenging circumstances.

“Knowing that such a prominent firm with strong local links is behind us means an awful lot.”

Tate & Lyle says half the sugar on UK supermarket shelves and 70per cent of the syrup and treacle comes from its Newham factories.

This means the efforts of its factory workers are ensuring their community – and staff across the Barts Health NHS Trust - are getting their fill of tasty treats to keep them going during the coronavirus crisis.

Healthcare play specialist Hamera Elahi recently baked this basket of flowers cake for her team in the Newham Hospital children'’s rainbow centre. Picture: Barts CharityHealthcare play specialist Hamera Elahi recently baked this basket of flowers cake for her team in the Newham Hospital children'’s rainbow centre. Picture: Barts Charity

Hamera Elahi, a healthcare play specialist at the Newham Hospital children’s rainbow centre, regularly bakes and decorates elaborate cakes for her team.

She said: “These are troubling and stressful times and everybody at the hospital is working so hard.

“My cakes always go down well so I thought baking was the perfect way to say thank you to my lovely colleagues.

“The sugar workers at Tate & Lyle are making sure bakers like me can keep our cakes coming.

“We are so grateful for their donation to our charity too, which will help our colleagues through this crisis.”

Tate & Lyle is also sending sugar sachets to the Nightingale field hospital, set up at the nearby ExCel Centre, for NHS workers’ cups of tea and coffee when they take a break.

Meanwhile, it is donating sugar and syrup directly to food banks, community centres and homeless shelters, including the East London Covid-19 Community Response and the Whitechapel Mission.

It has advanced tens of thousands of pounds of grant money earmarked for the community charities it supports to help them cover income gaps over the next few months – and made extra donations where cash flow is particularly challenged.

Charity partner Community Food Enterprise (CFE), based at Thames Refinery, is working hard to keep local food banks stocked with food and essentials, including our sugar and syrup.

Seafarers delivering sugar to the refinery by ship are also being gifted SIM cards by Tate & Lyle so they can stay in touch with their families whilst they are in port.


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