Covid India: How British Indians can help, and seek help

Covid India: How British Indians can help, and seek help

The Indian diaspora in Britain, the living bridge between the two countries as we have come to refer to them, have been known to mobilise in an instant when the country of their origin is in any kind of need. The same has been the case at a time when India – like many countries at different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic – has been hit by a deadly second wave.

“We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against Covid-19. Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as he announced that the first batch of life-saving equipment is due to arrive in New Delhi this week.

In total, nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will be sent from the UK to India immediately, with more assistance planned in the future.

Channels of support

The Indian High Commission in London took to social media to help address the many offers of help and support it had been receiving. The logistics and demand versus supply challenges being faced has meant shortages of essential medical equipment and supplies at many hospitals in India.

The mission’s appeal reads: “@HCILondon thanks all who have come forward to help in COVID19 situation. India needs: (i) Empty, refillable Oxygen cylinders with 10 litres and 45 litres LMO (liquid medical oxygen) capacity (ii) Oxygen concentrators (iii) in situ Oxygen manufacturing plants for hospitals & (iv) Remdesivir.

“For any help, kindly contact nodal officer Mr Rahul Nangare at fstrade.london@mea.gov.in.”

Community drives

Aside from the government-level response, several community initiatives have also been gathering steam quickly in the past few days.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, also known as Neasden Temple in London, has long been at the forefront of Covid-19 initiatives in the UK and has now launched a BAPS India Covid Emergency Appeal.

“Neasden Temple through its network of temples in India has been active in providing essential relief work, food provisions and medical supplies during Covid-19,” reads the appeal.

Yogvivekdas Swami, head of Neasden Temple, said: “The situation in India is dire and critical. Thousands are dying daily, so please do donate generously to help support the BAPS relief work and save lives.

“Pramukh Swami Maharaj left a legacy with his ethos, ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ There has perhaps never been a more critical and opportune moment to embody this noble principle.”

All information to make donations can be found at neasdentemple.org/donate through the UK-registered charity BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha; donate@uk.baps.org.

Similarly, Sewa International is running an India Covid Support Urgent Appeal to cover:

  • £15 each family essential kits (food, medicines, masks, sanitisers)

  • £150 for community homes such as orphanages and old people homes (food, medicines, oximeter, masks, sanitisers)

  • £350 for oxygen concentrators

Details can be accessed via the Sewa UK India Covid Appeal on Virgin Giving Money and info@sewauk.org.

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Rural India campaign

A project focused specifically at addressing some of the urgent requirements in rural India includes a drive by another UK-registered charity, the Noon Memorial Legacy Trust, to raise an estimated £50,000 for a new oxygen plant at its hospital at Bhawani Mandi in the state of Rajasthan.

The hospital, a legacy of the late British Indian entrepreneur Lord Gulam Noon, has been inundated with patients as the only fully-equipped medical facility in a 100-mile radius of the region. Zeenat Noon Harnal, the Managing Trustee of the charity, has taken immediate action to organise funds for a state-of-the-art CT Scan machine and ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

She told iGlobal: “These are short term actions. My focus now is for the longer term and I am determined to close things on commissioning work for an oxygen plant, which should be ready in a four-week period.

“The situation is very, very grim. I feel so helpless. But my father set up this hospital to help people there and I want to do everything in my power to put in place longer term life-saving measures.”

Many people have already pledged support for the Trust’s project through social media and anyone looking to contribute can find all the details at NoonHospital.Com. The UK Donation Form provides a tax-efficient way to donate to the charity’s cause.

Emergency Appeal

The British Asian Trust, the South Asia focus charity founded by Prince Charles, has also launched an India Covid-19 Emergency Appeal through Virgin Money Giving.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “The British Asian Trust is responding to this crisis and we will galvanise the support of the diaspora as we do this.

“We are working with the UK government, the Indian government and our Advisors and partners on the ground to ensure that we can add the most value in meeting immediate needs. We will also continue to use our expertise to focus on what happens in the medium term when lives need to be rebuilt.”

Details for donations to the British Asian Trust appeal can be found here.

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