At TikTok we want to do our bit to help ease the burden being felt by some of the communities at the heart of our platform who have been impacted by the pandemic.

 That’s why back in April, inspired by thousands of NHS staff taking to TikTok for light relief during their shifts, we donated £5million to the RCN Foundation’s COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal. The funds will provide essential financial and emotional support to frontline health and social care staff impacted by the pandemic.

 Two months on, Liz Kantar, Director of Public Policy at TikTok, sat down with Deepa Korea the Director of the RCN Foundation to catch up on what’s next for the partnership…

 Liz: So, what's changed at the RCN Foundation since we announced TikTok's £5million donation in April?

 Deepa: “A lot! We’ve been flat out setting up our new charity, the COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal (CHSA). This charity was created all because of TikTok’s £5million donation, to help us to distribute the funds to a collection of charities and organisations which will support health and social care staff on the frontline in their times of need.

“I’m so happy to say we’re now receiving applications through our brand new website! We hope to be able to make grants available soon for all the incredible organisations and charities that have signed up so far. It won’t be long before that support begins to reach those who most need it.”

 Liz: Why do you think this donation is so important? What are you hearing from health care and social care workers on the frontline about their experiences?

 Deepa: “Things are still very difficult on the frontline.  Staff are working in very challenging conditions, and there is real concern about the psychological impact of the pandemic on health and social care staff.  We have seen a high number of deaths amongst frontline staff, which has only added to the trauma and distress many are feeling at this time. TikTok’s donation will help support the mental health and wellbeing of staff now and in the coming weeks and months

 “And, added to this, there are financial concerns that many health and social care staff are grappling with. Some staff who are unable to work because of the pandemic have fallen on hard times. Many workers do not have a safety net, are on zero hours contracts or rely on both partners being able to work to survive financially. Covid-19 has really exacerbated those struggles.

 “Often, individuals have experienced a loss of income due to self-isolating or shielding and experienced an increase in expenditure because of isolating away from home or increased travel costs to continue working.

 “TikTok and The CHSA will provide financial support for families of health and care staff who have died from COVID-19 to pay for funeral and repatriation costs and, will be offering financial support to workers who have fallen on harder times during the pandemic.”

 Liz: What kind of demand do you expect for the funding? 

 Deepa: “There’s no escaping that demand will be high.

 “In recent weeks at just the RCN Foundation we’ve seen a huge increase in the levels of needs among nurses, midwives and healthcare support workers. I know that other charities supporting frontline staff have also experienced an increase in demand.

 “For example, we have received nearly 1,000 requests for support in less than 2 months from those facing hardship. That’s the sharpest increase I’ve ever experienced during my time with the RCN Foundation.

 “And, despite lockdown easing, we expect that the need for support will continue to remain high. Frontline health and care staff are bearing the brunt of the crisis and will continue to do so. If there is a second peak, we are likely to see that need for support increase sharply.”

 Liz: How will it all work?

 Deepa: “Organisations and charities that support frontline health and social care staff will be able to apply for funding from CHSA – directly on our website.

 “Once their application is received and reviewed, successful organisations will then be given grants to help support a wide array of staff including porters, cleaners, care workers, nurses, paramedics and many others, both emotionally and financially during the pandemic and after.”

 Liz: When do you anticipate that individuals will start to receive grants?

Deepa: “We expect individuals working on the frontline will receive grants early in July – it’s exciting to think about the funds and support getting to the people who really need it!”

 Liz: What impact do you think this support will have on the lives of people impacted?

 Deepa: “Firstly, TikTok’s funds will help to alleviate financial hardship for large numbers of individuals on the frontline and their families who have themselves been adversely affected by COVID-19.

 “The funding that individuals receive will often make the difference between being able to pay bills or not; in some cases it will make the difference between putting food on the table or not.

 “But there’s a knock-on impact too – having a financial safety net will give many workers peace of mind and reassurance, while helping to alleviate anxiety. It will make things easier for health and social care staff and their families during this difficult time.

 “Beyond the initial emotional benefit, the money will support organisations to provide counselling for those who need it, helping reduce and manage the impact of the pandemic on their mental health and wellbeing in the long term.”

 Liz: And finally, what's your take on health care workers using TikTok for light relief? What initially drew you to TikTok and how are you enjoying the platform during lockdown?

 Deepa: “I think that anything that helps to bring a little fun and light relief to the difficulties and challenges being faced on the frontline can be very positive and helpful for those individuals.

“My teenagers are enjoying using TikTok during lockdown and are very much encouraging me to get involved also, so you might see me alongside #DancingNurses very soon!”