PJs for hospital patients - Andrew Brownlee’s mission to help those in need
A Freemason from North Belfast has set up an initiative to ensure that anyone in hospital in need of essentials doesn’t go without.
To date, Andrew Brownlee has collected hundreds of pairs of pyjamas, slippers and a range of essential toiletries but his campaign needs more donations.
Andrew explained: “My daughter is a nurse in the Royal Victoria Hospital. When I found out that she and her colleagues were regularly purchasing essentials for people who were being treated in hospital who had nothing or had no one to bring them what they needed - I was broken-hearted.
“For these poor people, it was both embarrassing and degrading and it was certainly having a detrimental effect on their comfort and outlook.
The nursing staff had stepped up and were purchasing the necessities for these patients out of their own pockets, but that’s not fair, they shouldn’t have to do that.”
Andrew, who has been a Freemanson for 15 years, said he decided something had to be done.
“As a Freemason, I have a strong network of people I can call on for help, I also regularly work with the local community organising charitable events so I felt I could help. I put a call out on my own social media pages and was astounded by the response
“We started this in January and in those few months we have literally collected and donated thousands of items, including pyjamas, slippers, shower gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner – simply the basic things that we all take for granted.”
The project has now grown to encompass patients in the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald and Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, but Andrew wants to do more.
“The need is so great, it’s awful to realise that there are so many people having to deal with a stay in hospital without the basics. As I understand it the stockpiles are being replenished daily in some of the wards. I want to roll this out further to other hospitals across Northern Ireland and also to care homes.
“My father is in a care home and I know from speaking to the team there that they are short on toiletries – we can help with that and can facilitate the delivery of packages if we can collect donations.
“I’d like to urge anyone that can to donate anything they can afford.
“We now have a Facebook page called ‘PJ’s for Patients NI’ which gives all the information on how you can help – Let’s get these people the things they need to get better!”