The Duchess of Cornwall visited a pharmacy warehouse, a food bank and a homeless charity in East Sussex on Tuesday to meet those helping support the British public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She started her afternoon in Uckfield at the head office of Kamsons Pharmacy, a family-owned group of 77 pharmacies that employs almost 1,000 people. As one of the only healthcare providers whose doors have remained open to the public throughout lockdown, pharmacies have played a vital part in keeping Britain healthy over the past year.
The Duchess of Cornwall met with employees including unsung heroes like delivery drivers and warehouse staff who have kept these pharmacies running during the pandemic.
She also met an unlikely pandemic hero: a Weasel robot. These are the first installation of Weasel robots in the country, with Kamsons using them to move drugs around the warehouse.
On this occasion, it made a special delivery to Camilla, who said “thank you very much” as she lifted a bag containing a gift of face masks, hand sanitiser, and vitamins from the robot.
She then unveiled a plaque and gave a short speech thanking pharmacists for the “wonderful job you’ve done throughout the pandemic.”
Next, the Duchess of Cornwall headed to Fitzjohns Food Bank and Lewes Open Door charity, which operates out of Christ’s Church in Lewes.
She met with those operating the food bank, viewing a storage area in the former vestry and learning how the church has been transformed to help those in the community suffering from food instability. Fitzjohns is one of three independent food banks serving Lewes Town and the outlying villages and some of its volunteers are also users of its services.
Around 40 households a week receive food deliveries from volunteer drivers, and there has been a 15 to 25 percent increase in demand for the service since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Those accessing it receive fresh vegetables, organic free-range eggs, milk, bread, and baked goods, some of which are donated by local providers.
Camilla also learned more about the Open Door Charity, which offers support to the homeless and vulnerable in the community. She met volunteers who were setting up for their weekly lunchtime drop-in for homeless people and spoke to Revd. Jules Middleton, who was one of the original founders of Open Door.
In addition to serving lunch, volunteers give emotional support and advice, including referring them to relevant council departments and encouraging them to seek out mental health, drug and alcohol, and other health treatment services.
The organisation also provides an outreach service for those who have remained on the streets, delivering food and providing other support for the homeless.