Hannah Barnes, Graphic Designer.

Artists across the country have been using their creative skills to help support the NHS. Postcards designed by over 60 contributing graphic designers and artists for PositivePost have managed to raise over £25,000 for the COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

While the sight of hand-drawn pictures on NHS Wards might be familiar, Bookblock are using their artists and designers to do something different. PositivePost is an initiative where customers can send professionally designed postcards for free, aside from postage and packaging. In return, customers can donate as much as they like to the NHS Charities Together’s COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. Stefan Johnson, Bookblock’s Creative Director, says that there are now “over 10,000 people who’ve donated to PositivePost”.

Hannah Barnes, one of the initiative’s contributing artists, is also a full-time student. For her, the motivation for submitting a design was “very much the fact that it was all to do with the NHS and raising money for them”. Plus, Hannah likes that it has brought “lots of different artists together”, allowing her to “be inspired by others”.

Graphic Designer Hannah Barnes discusses why she’s proud to be a part of PositivePost.

“Receiving a letter or a postcard is really meaningful.”
Hannah Barnes, Graphic Designer

As well as raising money, keeping in contact with lonely family and friends is another factor that motivated Hannah to submit a design. For elderly people without internet connection like her grandparents, “receiving a letter or a postcard is really meaningful… it’s a way to… [show that] people are thinking of them”.

Hannah Barnes’ designed postcard.

Bookblock specialises in corporate gifting, so when lockdown began, they lost around 95% of their income in the space of two weeks. Stefan explained how “rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, we thought the best thing to do would be to think of a positive initiative that would have a positive effect on our audience but also our staff”.

This, alongside a phone-call from a Birmingham junior doctor, was the catalyst for launching PositivePost.

Over the phone, the junior doctor told Stefan that, “staff moral was pretty much at an all time low”, with the stress of what was already happening as well as the anticipation of what was to come. Stefan explained that the conversation got his team thinking quickly. In his eyes, PositivePost allows customers to “both communicate gratitude towards NHS through fundraising and also to send positive messages to their loved ones”.

The company’s original target was £5,000, but customer donations have now raised over £25,000. While their plan was to donate all the money to NHS Charities, they reconsidered after junior doctors suggested they might not see any of the money if it was donated indirectly.

Stefan Johnson, Creative Director at Bookblock, explains how junior doctors influenced them changing where fundraising went to.

When they approached the artists and graphic designers, Stefan says that the response was unanimously positive. Despite his own Mum being hospitalised with COVID-19 at the same time as the launch of PositivePost, he thinks that the coming together of communities and supporting essential workers is something beneficial to come out of the pandemic.

Sister Donna Phillips is the Clinical Team Lead on Scotter Ward in Lincolnshire. She manages around 50 staff and “ensures patient care is up to the right standard”.

She says it’s been “very difficult for us over the last 6 weeks, and one of the most difficult things has been that the patients aren’t allowed to see visitors”. Because of this, artwork and letters from children have made a huge impact on patients and staff: more than Donna thought it would.

“The little things are the very big things” Donna says. For her, receiving a postcard or some artwork is more significant than monetary donations.

Just one of the drawings Nurses on Scotter Ward have received.

“It’s lovely to think that the public are thinking about you and appreciate you. But it is our job” she explained.

On Scotter ward, physical donations have not only been artistic, but have also come in the form of hand-cream, pizza and Easter eggs.

“I just hope that the money gets to the places.”
Sister Donna Phillips, Scotter Ward

She does however acknowledge that fundraising is essential to helping Trusts do their jobs properly. With bigger charitable organisations, she says “I just hope that the money gets to the places”.

Sister Donna Phillips discusses why fundraising for the NHS is essential, even though it shouldn’t have to be.

Getting creative is both allowing ordinary people to support the NHS, and helping to bring communities closer together. While fundraising can become complex, Donna says that it is fundamentally the intention behind donations that is the most important. The artwork they receive, for example, will never get old.