Since we were kids, anywhere my brother went I was to follow. Whatever he did, I wanted to do, including playing the piano as a child, because I watched him learn it first. So when COVID-19 triggered a nationwide lockdown, he told me to pack my bags, move in with him and his family, and help start a charity to support NHS workers, I barely batted an eyelid.

And so began HEROES, a charity founded by NHS frontline staff, for NHS staff, in the wake of COVID-19. My brother, Dr Dominic Pimenta, his wife, Dr Dilsan Yilmaz, our friend, Dr Roshana Mehdian, our cousin, Nej D’jelal and I came together from our various backgrounds to create this initiative, to play our part in the crisis by helping to support our healthcare workers. For our family, like so many others, the crisis is personal. As two of our own family members are doctors who are losing colleagues every day, not to mention, fearing for their own lives, the call to action felt like a little light for us: a ray of hope in so much darkness.

Our key focal points with HEROES were to protect and support the safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers through the procurement and creation of PPE and to establish services such as food supply distribution and childcare services. However, our most important initiative was to establish a small grants fund to distribute actual cash to these workers to help with miscellaneous bills, expenses and the like. To date, we have officially raised over £1million in donations and have amassed a huge array of high-profile ambassadors for HEROES, each showing their support and helping us spread our message far and wide.

Coincidentally, one week before the chaos from the pandemic ensued, I interviewed for an early stage FinTech startup called Banked. The company was at a pivotal point with lofty goals of revolutionising the way money moves between consumers, businesses and banks, I was intrigued. With a product ready to go to market and about to launch out of beta, it felt like the perfect time for me to join and try something new. Little did I know, Banked would become a pivotal and crucial partner for HEROES.

Let me explain! The Banked platform works to cut out the middleman when it comes to processing payments, reducing down the overall transaction cost while delivering the funds immediately to the business in real-time. So when HEROES began thinking about setting up our website in order to take donations, Brad Goodall, the CEO and co-founder of Banked, stepped up to help. He offered us not just the opportunity to leverage the Banked platform to facilitate donations, but he also provided us with the much needed resources in the form of the Banked engineers to design and build the functionality for our donations page.

Originally we chose to use a major fundraising platform, however when Banked offered us their platform with all fees waived, we realised this meant we would retain the 2.9% transaction fee we were currently paying. A saving that would result in a significant amount of cash staying with HEROES and being put towards more PPE or our small grants scheme for NHS workers. Having just raised £1million in donations and on our way to a new target of £2million, we will save a staggering £29,000 in transaction fees.

This savings equates to HEROES being able to purchase:

  • 9,000 FFP3 masks
  • 10,000 full face visors (these visors can help keep entire practices / departments open and protected)
  • 6,000 single use gowns
  • 1,450 gift vouchers (a ‘perk after work’ scheme)

In addition to building a bespoke checkout for HEROES donations, the team at Banked are now working to build an interface that allows quick and easy payouts to NHS workers via our small grants program. This program is being launched in the upcoming weeks and will enable us to help NHS staff that have been hit hard financially due to the crisis.

We at HEROES have been overwhelmed by the response from across the UK, but also greatly humbled by peoples’ generosity and desire to help. Banked has been no exception, I feel very honoured to now work for a company that, even in a time of national and financial crisis, are prioritising helping HEROES get up and running so quickly. A huge thank you to the Banked team for all their efforts, notably developers Iain Reid, Tom Waddington, Jasmine Gasper, Julien Da Silva, and Meredith Lester. And also a huge amount of gratitude to Brad Goodall, Frederika Johnstone, and Jennifer Hoffman for leading the way.

For more information on HEROES ‘Help Them Help Us’, or to donate, head to helpthemhelpus.co.uk