Whilst physical hugs are currently not allowed with social distancing rules still in place, Malcolm Heaven, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) volunteer, has been serving up ‘Hugs in Mugs’ to LPT staff since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Over the past 12 months, Malcolm has been busy cooking up a storm making freshly made soup for staff at LPT’s Bradgate mental health Unit twice a week equating to approximately 240 cups of soup each week. Malcolm came up with the concept because he wanted to be able thank staff especially when pressures were rising.

Malcolm has worked closely with LPT, ‘Neigbourly’ (https://www.neighbourly.com/), the Marks and Spencer’s Thurmaston branch and the Incredible Edibles Network which has meant that he has been able to provide the soup free for staff. Marks and Spencer has also provided the bread to accompany the soup as well as treats and flowers.Malcolm has also delivered both flowers and treats to other LPT bases.

Malcolm said:

“The idea of Hug In A Mug was simple – I wanted to give staff a break from the pressures of their busy working day by providing delicious freshly made soup. Alongside that, it is a great opportunity to share conversations, smiles and the occasional treat.

In some ways we will never know the true impact that a ‘Hug In A Mug’ has on individuals but there is no doubt it brings people together. A simple cup of soup boosts energy and morale when it is needed most.”

To date, over 7000 portions of soup have been served and 1000 jacket potatoes.

LPT staff member Helen Perfect (Head of service at the Bradgate Unit ) said:

“We are indebted to Malcolm and all the contributors who have supported the ‘Hug in a Mug’ scheme over the past 12 months.   Knowing that you can take your break, talk to Malcolm, restore and refresh yourself with his super tasty homemade soup has been our lifeline during some very dark days.

He is always happy to chat, check in on how you are doing, and cheer you up with fun tales and tasty treats!  Malcolm has been our little slice of heaven during these past 12 months.”

Before the pandemic, Malcolm ran a groundbreaking mental health project at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust which won a national patient experience award – ‘Knead to Chat’.

‘Knead to Chat’ uses the art of bread-making to help patients tackle mental health challenges, helping them to develop a social network to support and enrich their lives, and to give them time to reflect on what matters to them.

If you’d like to find out about volunteering opportunities at LPT visit our website at www.leicspart.nhs.uk/volunteering