Food & Drink

A welcome tonic: Fever Tree donates to Hammersmith & Fulham Covid-19 community appeal

By Alex Ross
April 23 2020, 13.00

Hammersmith-based Fever-Tree, the drinks mixers company, announced a £10,000 donation to a community coronavirus response appeal last week.

The UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham appeal aims to help look after most vulnerable to the virus in Hammersmith and Fulham, such as those at risk of severe complications requiring hospital care, those unable to cope with isolation, and those living in poverty.

The charity acts as an intermediary for donations given out directly via non-profit organisations supporting groups in the community, such as Mencap, the Carers Network, the Barons Court Project, Bubble and Squeak, and the Smile Brigade.

UNITED trustees chair Kevin McGrath OBE DL reflected that the effect of the current crisis on the community is similar to that of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Mr McGrath said: “What was horrendous about Grenfell was the disparity between huge finance and massive poverty literally on the other side of the road.

“What came out of the public outpouring of ‘we want to help’ was that the whole west London community wanted to do something.”

Mr McGrath sees a similar display of unity in reaction to Covid-19.

“Out of all the negativity and the horrendous stories and the badness, there is a real positivity around the community, business and charity reaction,” he said.

“We’ve all come together and we’re saying this is our London, this is our part of London.

“If we all work together we can make it a better place.”

Mr McGrath explained that the appeal, which started two weeks ago, was able to raise funds quickly through the large support network of groups already in place across the borough.

UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham aims to establish networks between businesses, organisations and residents, and supports projects and solutions to bring people together to lead more fulfilling and valued lives as a community.

The money donated to its appeal will be a vital resource ­­­­­for these charities – £20 covers a day’s expenses for a volunteer collecting prescriptions, whereas £1,000 can help purchase PPE for frontline workers.

Just some of the groups of residents who will directly benefit from the appeal include the elderly, people living with HIV, the learning-disabled community, people with mental health conditions, and families struggling to meet the cost of food.

“We’re covering pretty much every group in need, which I’m really proud of, and the money from Fever-Tree means we can do that,” said Mr McGrath.

“With Fever-Tree’s donation of £10,000 we can now fund at least another 10 charities, who will then probably immediately interact with 2,000 people across the borough who are desperately in need.”

Fever-Tree exports to more than 70 countries and is the world’s leading supplier of carbonated drinks mixers by retail sales value.

The company has been based in west London since it was launched in 2005, and Hammersmith and Fulham has been the company’s home for the past three years.

Fever-Tree corporate responsibility manager Jess Ainley told South West Londoner what prompted the donation: “We’d been having lots of conversations internally around what we can do to help.

“We just all feel really passionately about playing our part in the community.

“We would really love to be out and about in the borough helping with our hands, and a lot of our employees do live in and around Hammersmith and Fulham too.

“Because of the restrictions, we felt that this was the best way we could support our community.”

The drinks supplier has also joined the nationwide scheme through donating soft drink selections – ‘nothing containing alcohol at the moment’ – to frontline workers, as well as trialling a bar tab top-up scheme, which tops up bar tabs pledged by consumers to closed pubs and bars, ensuring that when they open their doors again they will have customers waiting and funds to hand.

The name Fever-Tree was inspired by the history behind tonic water and of the sturdy and ever-reliable gin and tonic.

Quinine, historically a well-known treatment for malaria, is sourced from the bark of the Cinchona tree – known as the ‘fever tree’ – and was taken daily to protect against the disease by British soldiers in India, who mixed it with sugar and water to to offset its bitter taste.

The anti-malarial origins of tonic water have prompted some people to question whether there is a possible connection between the drink and the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted as a possible ‘miracle drug’ in the fight against Covid-19.

In response, the company has set up a special ‘Coronavirus and Quinine’ FAQ page on its website to quell these claims.

“Our customer relations team got lots of questions about it, and we felt that it was our responsibility to address it head-on on our website and answer the questions transparently,” says Fever-tree communications manager Elena Philipson.

The page affirms that their tonic water does not contain hydroxychloroquine, and that there is no scientific evidence that either quinine or hydroxychloroquine can protect against or treat Covid-19.

Featured image credit: WestportWiki, Wikimedia Commons. Licensed for reuse.

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