Hundreds of special thank you letters are now arriving at the homes of children of staff members – all part of the wider Oxford Health family.

Sons, daughter, grandchildren, nephews and nieces are receiving letters personally addressed to them from the Trust’s Chief Nurse Marie Crofts, telling them how brilliant and brave they have been during Coronavirus.

It’s just one of many initiatives Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is doing to support our teams across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and beyond, as they work tirelessly to deliver caring safe and excellent services to our patients – especially during the pandemic.

The Letters to a Little One explain why their mum or relative is still going to work when lots of other people don’t have to ‘and that’s because they have a really important job to do’.

The letter states: “We wanted to say a big thank you to you for sharing them with us. You might not realise it but the love and support you are showing your family member is helping them get through a really difficult time.

“You are an important part of the Oxford Health NHS Team and you are amazing!”

Some of the first recipients of the 600 letters have been getting in touch to say how much the letters have meant to their youngsters.

Dr Juliet Chastney, a clinical psychologist and team leader of the eating disorders clinic at Melksham Hospital, Wiltshire  – part of Melksham Community CAMHS – wrote in to say: “Here is my 7-year-old daughter pleased as punch! I didn’t tell her, or her little brother about these letters, so I came home from work yesterday and she pounced on me and asked “Did the NHS send me a present?’

“I thought the letter was lovely and felt quite emotional as she read it out to me. My four-year-old son loved his teddy bear and took it to bed with him. I liked that the teddy had a mask which helps him understand why we need to wear them sometimes.

“Also, I liked that the teddy had dark brown skin – like my children. I am always on the lookout for toys which represent their beautiful colours. I’m really proud Oxford Health is so supportive of the Black Lives Matter principle and BAME employees.”

School health nurse Cressida Martin Bates, who is based as Wallingford Community Hospital, said: “Thank you to those who had this excellent idea and to all those who helped put it into action.”

Her children, Sophia, 7, and Lewis, 4, (pictured) were thrilled to receive their packages in the post today.  Cressida said: “They have been very good coping with all the changes so I could carry on my work as a school nurse and also redeployment to the District Nursing Team.”

Another pleased parent is HR adviser Serena Brooke whose daughter Jasmine, 8, was shocked to receive her own post.  “My daughter said ‘the NHS is so kind’,” said Serena. “It was a lovely thought to remember our little people and consider the impact of Covid 19 on their worlds and nice to say thanks to them for coping so well.

“Working from home whilst trying to juggle home schooling has been very stressful for us both but Jasi has been a total superstar throughout and very understanding when she has to wait if I am on a call or in a meeting. The letter and her gift arrived today and she was so surprised and delighted. It is a lovely gesture to thank her for her patience and understanding in such a hard time. “

The idea for the initiative came from Emma Leaver, Service Director of Community Services, who has been busy with a team of volunteers, sending the letters far and wide thanks to funding support from Oxford Health Charity and donations of teddy bears and Lego.

She said: “As a mum myself I understand the pressures that the Coronavirus has brought on families. This pandemic is history in the making and young people have supported their loved ones in ways they don’t even realise – that smile, that joke, that picture, staying in school.

“And as we all know from new research it’s young children who have felt the biggest impact of the pandemic. So, this is a lovely way in which we can thank all our young people out there; something they can cherish and the perfect addition to a memory box.”

And Marie added: “These letters clearly mean a lot to all who are receiving them. Family is so important and so is supporting you, our Oxford Health family.”