AN ARMY of independent businesses in York and volunteers have stepped up to help others during the Covid-19 crisis.

The growing movement has seen chefs, cafe owners and community-minded residents cooking and distributing hundreds of free meals to isolated people every day over the past month.

They are now also delivering hot meals to NHS staff in the Covid-19 Emergency Department at York Hospital, with top chefs involved including Andrew Pern, from the Starr Inn the City, and Tommy Banks, of York-based Roots restaurant.

Victoria Griffin whose sister is a senior doctor at York Hospital had put out an appeal for support after learning that front line staff working long shifts were unable to leave their wards to visit food outlets for quarantine reasons.

Within hours, local businesses were delivering 50 cooked meals twice a day for front line hospital staff.

“Due to the restrictions placed on NHS staff who are working tirelessly in ICU, Emergency Dept, and the increasing amount of Covid wards that keep springing up on a daily basis, it was emerging that these poor NHS workers were running on a vending machine sandwich,” said Victoria.

In an email, sent to businesses and local organisations, Victoria wrote: “My sister is a senior doctor in A&E Department at York District Hospital.

"She is currently doing 12-hour shifts six days a week. They are currently getting a vending machine sandwich, a packet of crisps and perhaps an apple, and no hot food at all. She and her colleagues are very stressed as daily they are receiving COVID-19 patients into their care. They would really appreciate a good meal. We would really appreciate your help, and it would boost their morale no end.

"I am helping as her sister to coordinate a daily food delivery to the Emergency Department. If you can help out in any way the doctors, nurses and health care staff would be most grateful.”

A key provider of these meals is the Supper Collective, set up by Steve and Julia Holding, of the Pig and Pastry in Bishopthorpe Road, with community figures including Pete Kilbane, a volunteer and ward councillor who also works for Green Link Cycle Courier, along with other cycle delivery groups.

“It’s an honour to be part of this project and inspiring to see top chefs, cycle couriers, taxi drivers and local volunteers helping to feed some of York’s most vulnerable people and supporting staff in the COVID-19 wards. The Supper Collective is community at its best," said Pete.

The group set up a Go Fund Me site to help pay for packaging, delivery and ingredients with a target of £1000. It has now raised more than £10,000.

York Collective cycle couriers, along with taxi firms, individual cyclists and people on foot, carry out doorstep deliveries to more than 50 vulnerable people. There are around 25 businesses involved, with one restaurant per day providing meals for York Hospital.

Steve and Julia coordinate the Supper Collective with key volunteers, while produce is donated from generous sources.

Supper Collective volunteers include Pete Kilbane, Frankie Hayes, Dave Morris, Vicki Robertson, Gary Newbold, Dan Probert and York’s Cycling Fraternity who do the deliveries every weekend.

There is also lots of produce donated from various generous sources.

Other supporters of the volunteer effort include Caesars Italian, Tykes, Appletons Butchers, Swan Inn, Pickering, Birdies Perch, Bistro Guy and Graham's Ices.