How Virgin is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Virgin Atlantics health pack
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Head shot of Tania Steere.  She is smiling, with long, wavy blonde hair
by Tania Steere
17 June 2020

The Virgin Group has committed $250m to support the Virgin companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some of the ways Virgin companies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Virgin Atlantic is operating cargo flights to bring more than 43 million items of PPE to the UK throughout May, June and July. It has already completed a series of eight cargo flights in April, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS, to bring back over 120 tonnes of essential medical supplies and PPE from China, including 3.5 million individual items to be distributed to NHS frontline workers across the UK. For the first of these flights Virgin Atlantic worked alongside Virgin Unite and Virgin Care. They have also brought more than 3,000 stranded Britons home on repatriation flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Hundreds of grounded employees are volunteering for the NHS, including cabin crew that are supporting the Nightingale hospitals, and many more are working or volunteering in roles and charities in their community. These include Pilot, James Farwell; and Flight Service Manager, Darren Moore

picure of boxed protective wear in the cargo area of a virgin plane ready for transport to help provide supplies for covid19
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Australia donated thousands of supplies from their 125 aircraft to people in need. This included rolls of toilet paper and meals. Virgin Australia is also working with charity OzHarvest, and have donated 6,000 excess meals. This surplus food will divert three tonne of food from landfill and includes award-winning meals from the airline’s business class menus and airport lounges.

Virgin Care has nearly 7,000 doctors and nurses working as part of the NHS and social care services. Virgin Care has been working on the frontline response helping hospitals create as much bed capacity as possible by supporting people in their own homes and communities. It has also re-designed services and redeployed hundreds of employees in different roles to help support the NHS response to the pandemic. Virgin Care has invested more than £75m to date into the NHS and have never made a profit. If Virgin Care ever does make a profit, the Virgin Group has committed to reinvest 100 per cent of that back into the NHS.

Virgin Galactic has designed oxygen hoods, which can be used for patients who are in the hospital with respiratory problems but are yet to need a ventilator, or can be used when none are available. Virgin Galactic have donated hundreds of masks and PPE and medical supplies including Powered Air Purifying Respirators to local hospitals in the US. These important machines offer additional protection for the front-line workers who are in the closest physical proximity to those patients suffering from COVID-19. 

Virgin Media is helping to keep Britain’s homes, businesses and public services #stayconnected. Virgin Media is prioritising NHS and critical services customers and giving pay monthly customers free minutes and extra data. Virgin Media is also giving customers extra TV channels at no extra cost and more than one million customers who currently pay for speeds under 100Mbps have been given a free boost from superfast broadband to ultrafast M100 Fibre Broadband. There are also many brand new in-cinema releases now available to watch at home.

Picture of someone in high vis holding green cables and writing "we're boosting connectivity to the frontline"
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Virgin Money is focused on supporting customers, colleagues and communities. It’s helping business customers access credit and get payment holidays through empowered relationship managers and is supporting the government’s CBILS and CLBILS schemes. Personal customers are being supported with interest-free overdrafts, payment holidays on mortgages, credit cards and loans and money management tools to help them bank from home. It’s protecting the wellbeing of colleagues through home working, covering lunch and travel costs for critical workers and not proceeding with previously announced redundancies. The Virgin Money Foundation is supporting local charities’ COVID-19 efforts with over £850k of funding and Virgin Money is also covering the platform fee for its not-for-profit fundraising platform, Virgin Money Giving, from April 18th until the end of the government lockdown. Campaigns such as Run for Heroes are using Virgin Money Giving to raise money for NHS Charities Together. 

Virgin Orbit has designed a mass producible bridge ventilator. These have been granted emergency use authorisation by the FDA.  Guided by the medical expertise and clinical experience of the Bridge Ventilator Consortium — a group of doctors, medical researchers, and medical device engineers collaborating to advise multiple different low-cost ventilator efforts — Virgin Orbit has leveraged its extensive engineering design, manufacturing, and operational capabilities to quickly design a novel ventilator, test prototype units, and ramp up production of these devices.

Virgin Orbit ventilators are prepared to be packed. Text reads: "We've switched from rockets to ventilators"
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Virgin Radio has announced plans for a 'Big Thank You Tour' - featuring three live arena shows across the UK this autumn and free tickets for key workers. Chris Evans has raised more than 1.2million for the NHS with a celebrity silent auction.

Virgin StartUp is helping small business founders who have been left out of the UK government's Covid-19 support schemes. They are also providing an enormous amount of business advice for free. 

Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group and Branson family’s not for profit entrepreneurial foundation, has teamed up with Jeff Skoll and Strive Masiyiwa to help African nations secure low-cost, urgently needed medical equipment. Ventilators and oxygen helmets designed by Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic will be manufactured in Africa

Virgin Unite has also supported Crisis Text Line and Shout in their efforts to support frontline workers and towards the launch of The Mental Health Fund, which aims to support the work of organisations that provide crisis intervention via text message, 24/7. $2 million has already been raised by the founding group to help individuals cope with the mental health and behavioural impact of COVID-19. 

Many of our Virgin Companies have created some great in-home experiences to support families and individuals living under lockdown conditions. A few examples of these include:

To find out more about a specific company, head over to our companies page.