Some time ago our Club made a donation to local bloodrunners SERV Kent towards the cost of purchasing 12 milk boxes for collection and delivery of donated breast milk to help premature babies. We were delighted to receive an update from Trevor Sayer.
Trevor Sayer is the Events & Fund Raising Coordinator for SERV Kent; he came to speak to our Club some time ago and give us fascinating insight into the work of SERV KENT and its volunteers. Below we copy an update from Trevor about their work, including the very important role they are playing in relation to Covid-19 (reproduced here with his permission).
"The volunteers of SERV Kent – Bloodrunners provide many services to our local communities - delivering blood, samples, equipment and other patient essential items to and from hospitals, patient addresses and the Kent Air Ambulance - some of them directly resulting in the saving of lives.
One of these services is the collection and delivery of donated breast milk to help premature babies and their mothers. This will include the collection of donated breast milk from a mother’s home which is then taken up to the Hearts Milk Bank in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. It is checked and treated before being brought back down to Kent and delivered either to premature babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in local Kent hospitals or direct to mothers at their homes. Quite often we will liaise with Herts&Beds Blood Bike Group who will cover part of the journey.
During the delivery, either by car or motor bike, the donated milk is frozen and must be kept frozen until it is required. The milk is transported in special ‘milk boxes’ which have ice packs to keep the temperature below zero. The milk boxes differ from our normal ‘blood boxes’ which are designed to keep blood products at a temperature between 2 and 28 degrees Centigrade i.e. normal UK temperatures.
In December 2018 members of The Rotary Club of Canterbury very kindly donated the sum of £250 towards the cost of purchasing 12 milk boxes, which will be kept by our members around Kent so that they are readily available when required.
Together with a donation from local Freemasons, we were able to purchase the purpose-made milk boxes and these give our members peace of mind that the donated breast milk always arrives at its destination in good condition and helps the mothers and babies when they need it most.
On average, our volunteers handle around 3,850 calls every year, operating every night of the year and weekend daytimes and bank holidays, however, during the COVID Coronavirus pandemic, we have been providing a 24 hour service to our local hospitals, including the transportation of COVID samples for specific testing.
Our members, who are all volunteers and who use their own vehicles and pay for their own costs, volunteered to cover these extra calls and we handled around 4,850 runs in 2020. We are continuing to provide a 24 hour service whilst the COVID pandemic continues.
Whilst our volunteers cover their own costs, SERV Kent – Bloodrunners requires around £48,000pa to cover its operating costs. These include the running of our small fleet of cars and motor bikes (maintenance & insurance), rent on our HQ, business insurances and other usual running costs.
Unfortunately, all fund raising events and talks have been cancelled which means our income has been zero, however, we are really grateful for the support that we have received from our local communities which has enabled us to continue our important work."
If you would like to know more about SERV Kent or would like to volunteer or donate, please visit their website here.
Picture: The milk boxes that our donation went towards. Picture credit: Trevor Sayer/SERV Kent.