West Ham captain urges support for nurses' campaign

Last updated at 12:18 01 March 2007

A top Premiership footballer today called on his fellow players to join him in giving up a day's pay for nurses.

West Ham United captain Nigel Reo-Coker is one of eight footballers who have signed up to the Mayday For Nurses campaign and agreed to donate their wages for May 13 to help nurses.

The campaign's founder, Noreena Hertz, said she was hoping to sign up all 556 Premiership players, as well as managers, commentators and others in the football community.

Any money raised will go towards a hardship fund for nurses who get into financial difficulties in the first few years of their career.

The campaign is also calling on the Government to raise nurses' wages to bring them in line with comparable public-sector workers like Tube drivers, social workers, and police officers.

Reo-Coker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it's a tremendous cause. I would like to see footballers play the part that rock stars did with Live Aid.

"My mum was a nurse and I know how hard she had to work and I know how hard it is for nurses. For me, they are the real heroes in our society and this is a chance for us to make a difference."

Dr Hertz told Today she had picked nurses to be the beneficiaries of the campaign because they were among the worst paid public servants with professional qualifications, earning one-third less than teachers by the time they are established in their careers.

"Nurses are under-valued and are holding down two or three jobs just to nurse," she said.

"It is not fair that we exploit the kindness of these women who obviously do want to care and treat them as second-class citizens and don't reward them for the education they have undertaken and the training they have done."

Dr Hertz urged football fans to add their names to the 2,300 who have given their backing to the appeal at www.maydayfornurses.com.

Players who have already pledged to give up their salary for May 13, according to the website, include Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Paul Robinson (Spurs), Jermaine Defoe (Spurs), Kevin Nolan (Bolton), Nigel Reo-Coker (West Ham), Alan Stubbs (Everton) and David James (Portsmouth).

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