From flight to fight – air hostess joins battle against COVID-19

15th Mar 2021

Air hostess Emma Whitehouse has gone from the sandy beaches of Spain to Sandwell – after swapping her jet-setting lifestyle for working in the NHS.  

When coronavirus struck, the 32-year-old who works for TUI found herself grounded, so decided to make a clean sweep and joined Sandwell Hospital’s ward services team in her hometown of West Bromwich.  

Emma Whitehouse has been unable to continue working as a flight attendant and is now working at Sandwell Hospital instead.
Emma Whitehouse pictured in Hawaii.

“I have many friends and family members who work for the NHS, so I knew how much pressure they were under and wanted to do whatever I could to help,” said Emma, who has worked for the airline for seven years.  

“At the start of lockdown, I was struggling mentally being stuck at home. I am used to travelling as an air hostess and across the country as a cabin crew trainer. I was based at Gatwick at the time we went into lockdown so to go from that to nothing was a real shock to the system.” 

In April Emma started at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust which runs the hospital, as a ward services officer, cleaning the wards and serving meals.  

When the restrictions eased last summer, she went back to work for a brief period. But when the second lockdown hit again in autumn, she joined the Trust’s laundry service helping to make sure there were enough scrubs for medics and keeping the wards stocked up. 

Though she hopes to go back to her role as a flight attendant, Emma enjoys working at the Trust. She added: “Working at Sandwell Hospital was the perfect solution for me as I could support my local hospital whilst keeping busy and doing something useful. It made perfect sense in my mind as I live just over the road from the hospital. 

“I have found that many staff share a similar mentality to that of cabin crew. They’re flexible, adaptable and hard-working so it was easy enough for me to fit in. It does feel a bit strange having a routine as I’m normally used to a changing roster and not knowing if I’m coming or going.” 

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