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When Nej D’Jelal, Managing Director, Head of Electronic Equities & Quant Prime Services Product, EMEA, wanted to help in the UK’s effort to battle COVID-19, he decided to unite with friends and family who had first-hand experience in combatting the virus. Working with healthcare professionals, Nej set up HEROES, a charity that has been providing equipment, supplies, food and care for frontline workers across the UK – and is laying the groundwork for providing support beyond the crisis.

HEROES supporting heroes

Since it was founded on March 18th, HEROES has raised over £1 million, which has already directly helped over 99,499 National Health Service (NHS) workers. The organisation has set up a £350,000 fund to address national PPE shortages, including purchasing 50 3D printers that can create 10,000 visors a week. HEROES has also facilitated the provision of therapy and emotional support to those affected by the crisis, and created a £150,000 grant to help fund childcare to healthcare workers facing financial hardship and long shifts.

As a doctor and single mum working in a busy London hospital, my childcare was affected by lockdown restrictions. Initially I sent my 3 year old son to stay with my parents and I didn’t see him for a month. Thanks to the childcare grant from HEROES, I am reunited with my son and can keep helping our NHS patients in a job that I love!
NHS Doctor

HEROES has also worked with other organisations around the UK. It has collaborated with SHIELD Collective and Sew Sussex to produce 12,000 sets of scrubs, offer 600 hours of free counselling a week through Harley Therapy, and alongside the Ian James Poulter foundation has supplied local hospitals with 400 food boxes to save NHS workers from spending their rare free time in supermarket queues.

Rising to the challenge

Despite HEROES being set up in very unusual circumstances, everyone involved with the organisation was determined to go the extra mile to make sure it would be a success.

Social distancing measures and remote working were just some of the challenges faced by volunteers, who also had to maintain full-time jobs or cope with the realities of furlough or redundancy. Flexibility and many late nights were key to keeping on path to reaching HEROES’ donation and distribution goals.

We’re immensely grateful to volunteers, family and friends that have helped HEROES raise £1million to support our incredible NHS frontline workers.
Nej D'Jelal, Managing Director, Head of Electronic Equities & Quant Prime Services Product, EMEA, and Chairman of HEROES

Nej has been overwhelmed by the backing HEROES has received, from its team of 30 volunteers and the money donated so far to the enthusiasm of his Barclays colleagues. ‘As soon as I mentioned starting HEROES, I’ve had nothing but support and offers of help from people all over the company, which has made me feel really proud to work for Barclays,’ he says.

HEROES is now focused on forging more partnerships so it can continue to support NHS workers as the pandemic progresses. ‘This was never just about responding to the immediate crisis,’ Nej says. ‘It was about doing what we could as soon as we could, but also understanding what people will need today, tomorrow and in the future so we can be there for them as long as they need us.’

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