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Project Wingman takes off at Horton General Hospital

This article is more than three years old.

An initiative to support staff at the Horton General Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic has taken flight with the backing of members of the airline industry.

Launched at the Banbury hospital on Tuesday 9 June 2020, Project Wingman has engineered designated 'first class lounges' for staff who wish to get on-board and unwind with uniformed aviation staff.

Using their experience of working in stressful and pressured environments, grounded flight and cabin crew volunteers will serve refreshments and chat with their guests. Trained in compassionate listening and stress reduction techniques, they can help them relax with a well-deserved cuppa (other drinks and snacks are available).

Terry Roberts, Chief People Officer at the Trust, said: "Project Wingman welcomes all OUH staff to visit for some refreshments and a unique opportunity to decompress, switch off, and be looked after by aircrew for the duration of their break.

"The aim is to support staff emotionally and practically, and to give them a much-needed treat in their working day. This initiative is just the ticket for our staff who might want or need an extra bit of support.

"Thank you to all the volunteers from the aviation industry who are using their time to help others."

The lounge is hosted at the restaurant, 4pm to 10pm, Monday to Friday. The refreshments are being funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity and provided by Carpenter Catering.

Project Wingman launched for staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital on Tuesday 2 June. The lounge at the Oxford hospital is at the GPEC café on Level 3, between 6pm and midnight, 7 days a week.

The national initiative was set up by Professor Rob Bor, a Clinical Psychologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, and two pilots, Dave Fielding and Emma Henderson.

Emma Henderson, co-founder of Project Wingman, said: "We founded Project Wingman as the airlines were starting to ground crew, to support NHS staff both emotionally and practically in extraordinary times.

"We wanted to provide as far as possible, a distraction from their primary role. This is accomplished by utilising uniformed airline crew with their amazing people skills, and having a shared experience of working in highly disciplined, regulated and stressful environments.

"We are delighted to be able to reach NHS staff in over 40 hospitals in the UK, and to have Oxford University Hospital's as part of the Project Wingman family."

Pictured: Terry Roberts, Chief People Officer, with OUH staff and aviation volunteers