Project Wingman staff land new jobs at QE Hospital in Gateshead

Following the success of the Project Wingman, 22 members of the crew have landed new jobs at QE Gateshead.

The furloughed airline crew have been volunteering since April 2020, offering refreshments and a first class lounge as a safe place to unwind. As well as continuing to support staff, they are now assisting with the largest vaccination programme in British history.

Lisa Crichton-Jones, director of people and OD said: “The Project Wingman volunteers have been such a support to our staff. Their skillset means the team are a fantastic asset to us and the NHS.   

“From first aid training to outstanding customer service, the furloughed airline crew have offered their time and experience to help the NHS with health and wellbeing of staff and assisting with the vaccination programme.

“We are now lucky to have secured 22 new jobs in administration roles and as healthcare assistants for them to be able to continue their support.”

Erika Koltai, one of the Project Wingman volunteers said: “It’s been amazing and rewarding to be part of the vaccination programme.

“It’s a great honour and we’ve loved seeing the people who came to our lounge come back through to get their vaccine.

“As we are highly trained professionals as crew, we were able to fit into the role seamlessly. I’m seriously considering hanging up my wings after 30 years to become a fully qualified healthcare assistant!”

Project Wingman has been one of the most successful schemes to come from the pandemic, first launching in April 2020, the volunteers landed in our hospitals to provide a sanctuary and safe space for NHS staff right across the country all on a voluntary basis.

November 2020 saw the launch of Wingman Wheels and then at the end of 2020, CEO Emma Henderson was recognised in the New Year’s Honours List and was awarded an MBE for her support of wellbeing for NHS staff.