Written by Jan Roberts, Head of Trading, Belu Water.
Like many people around the world, the impact of COVID-19 completely took me by surprise.
I had watched with interest and sadness what was happening in China and Italy and had sympathised with parents in Japan as schools there closed for 12 weeks. I had not contemplated that it was on its way here and was about to change our lives so dramatically and so quickly.
Like many others, my husband and I work full-time and have three young children, so selfishly, my first concern was how we were going to cope, maintain our jobs and attempt to ‘teach’ our children.
I was also hugely concerned about our industry. Belu is predominately in the HORECA (hotel, restaurant, catering) market and all the beautiful restaurants, bars and hotels that mean so much to us were shutting their doors. These bustling venues, usually brimming with hard work, dedication and joyous conversation were immediately devoid of life.
Following a conversation with a doctor friend, the full scale of what was happening on the frontline really hit home. The sacrifices being made by health workers around the world who are not only risking their lives through prolonged exposure but are also having to physically separate themselves from their loved ones to protect them. I realised that I had been living in a very secure bubble. My minor worries about home-schooling and job security paled in comparison when I realised that I was, in fact, privileged to be in lockdown with my family and kissing my children goodnight every day.
At Belu, a social enterprise giving 100% of profits to WaterAid, we wanted to understand whether there was anything we could do to help in any small way. We were particularly inspired by the ‘Feed Our Frontline’ charity that very quickly captured the attention of the public here in the UK. This charity has now raised £1.135m to ensure that NHS workers get a hot meal every day. Many of the key players in this project were behind this from the start: Tortilla, Rosa’s Thai, Peach Pubs, Wasabi, Franco Manca and Dishoom to name a few. Their immediate support demonstrates the huge heart of the UK hospitality industry.
Following a timely chat with Jane Silber, one of the driving forces behind the NHS Feed Our Frontline Initiative, it became clear that our hospitals also needed water. We are now working closely with this charity to ensure that we provide stock to all of our hospitals in need. We are incredibly proud to play our own minor part in this fantastic initiative.
COVID-19 is touching all of us in some way. At Belu, we were saddened to learn through the Felix Project about the devastating impact that the pandemic is having on the most vulnerable members of our society. The food provided by the Felix Project is helping people who have lost their jobs, people on low incomes, and children and families who are struggling. The Southwark Food Hub supports their community in similar ways, and we are very honoured to have supported both projects in a small way.
In many respects, I wish I were able to do more directly, but we at Belu will continue to seek out any opportunities to help in any way we can. I am so grateful to all the frontline workers that my family are able to stay in our safe and sheltered bubble. Thank you.
If you would like to find out more about these brilliant organisations, here’s where you can find them: