The importance of collaboration in response to COVID-19

Dr Yijing Li, Lecturer in Urban Informatics at King’s College London, discusses the team effort crucial to our COVID-19 response.

Dr Yijing LiIn mid-March 2020, I was frustrated to be at home during the pandemic and not be contributing to a wider and urgent societal need. In collaboration with David Lawson, Head of Procurement at Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and John Pennant, Senior Principal Gifts Fundraiser, King’s College London and King’s Health Partners, I began to reach out to my networks in China, and to the Chinese community in the UK. In every case, there was an incredible outpouring of goodwill towards the UK, especially towards the NHS and its health workers.

With Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director at King’s Health Partners and Senior Vice President (Health) at King’s College London, himself sending letters of thanks to our donors, we received a considerable tranche of gifts for personal protective equipment (PPE). Our donor pool included 15 organisations, including alumni from Peking University, the Chinese alumni community at King’s College London, and the British-Chinese community in London. Donations for PPE are still ongoing.

We faced so many challenges along the way. Policies regarding the import and export of PPE in China and the UK altered very rapidly, and we had to adapt to these changes, getting our papers in order on each occasion. It was a fight against the coronavirus – and against time.

An estimate of the cash and in-kind donations we received exceeds £500,000, achieved in a matter of weeks. This volume of gifts, and such expression of fellow feeling and solidarity with healthcare workers in the UK, would never have been possible without the energy and enthusiasm of members of the Chinese community in London such as Lady Xuelin Bates, who mobilised more than half of these donations.

As for myself, I’m so pleased that I was in a position to act and to help. Our team effort not only assisted Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, but also contributed nationally to wherever the need for PPE was greatest.

You can explore additional COVID-19 fundraising activities across King’s Health Partners on our website.