Businesses and individuals step forward to provide PPE for key workers and NHS

As a part of the national effort to provide much needed personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19 businesses are stepping forward to help.

Mid Sussex Timber
Mid Sussex Timber

A number of businesses from across the Sussex area have been putting on hold their usual production and are instead turning their focus to making masks, sanitiser and a whole range of and a whole range of other protecting equipment.

This includes Noviun Architects in Chichester.

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Associate Dan Smith said: “At the practice we have utilised our 3D printers to help provide face shields for local and national NHS in collaboration with the Makers Guild in Portsmouth and also Industry Prints.

Foam for headbands

"The Industry Prints initiative has been working with the NHS to provide an agreed, printable face mask design that the NHS can use to keep them safe.

"Noviun are aiming to produce 300 masks a week to be shipped to both providers in the hope that we can have a positive impact on helping frontline NHS battle the virus and stay safe."

But it isn’t just businesses who are helping.

Graham McKnight from Durrington works at Worthing Hospital as a Macmillan Clinical Support Worker, his fiancée Erin Gee’s mother, Christine from Worthing, is making bandanas for care home staff.

Hand sanitiser

He said: “She is normally employed to make seat covers for commercial aircraft companies.

“However she has recently turned her crafty hands to making ‘bandanas’ for wearers of PPE masks .

“They mask strings can be attached to the buttons on the ‘bandanas’ rather than behind the ears to save from irritation.

“I have telephoned the New Grange Care Home (10-16 Homefield Road, Worthing), who said that they would happily accept and use Christine’s headbands, as care staff there also use PPE that may irritate behind the ears.”

Handbands made in Worthing

Anna Haskell is the owner of South Coast Mermaids and.

She said: “As I can’t teach my mermaids, I’ve been sewing scrubs for a local GP practice.”

Facilities at Ricardo technical centres at Shoreham-by-Sea have been repurposed as assembly and logistics centres for the new face shields.

The face shields will be donated free of charge to front line NHS workers and care homes and is being produced to a bespoke Ricardo design, leveraging its design, engineering and manufacturing expertise. A prototype was delivered by the company’s in-house rapid prototyping team and facilities. However, it was quickly realized that rapid prototyping would not provide the volumes of face shields needed or at the speed required.

Handmade scrubs

Ricardo has used its manufacturing supply chain expertise to engage with an injection moulding partner, to create a tool capable of high-volume manufacture.

Using this bespoke tooling, and its engineering design expertise, the team took the opportunity to refine the original rapid prototype design of the face shield for enhanced comfort over extended periods of wear, inviting local NHS doctors to test the new face shield design for comfort and wearability.

Steve Dyke, managing director Automotive and Industrial said: “As a world-leading engineering consultancy, Ricardo is known for its expertise and capability in innovating, adapting and bringing products to market at pace, and as engineers we live to solve challenging problems for our customers. Our people have been anxious to use their engineering capabilities, skills and knowledge to find solutions to help protect frontline staff in the NHS and other key workers. The team has worked tirelessly to enable us to be able to go into production in a matter of days, and we are proud to be in a position to use our engineering capabilities for this essential task.”

Martin Starkey, managing director Performance Products added: “Our people are renowned for their expertise in high value manufacturing, and they have brought their trademark passion, care, dedication and commitment to assembling face shields. We are proud of our people’s response in volunteering to be part of this work, and also that we are able to make the most of our facilities at the Ricardo Shoreham Technical Centre. We look forward to delivering these much-needed PPE products to the NHS and care homes as soon as possible.”

Mark Oakley owns a landscaping business, but has had to go into self isolation for 12 weeks due to his health.

This has resulted in him having to shut down landscaping, but he has started a woodworking business making small gifts and bespoke furniture.

He said: “It is also allowing me to make some small mask clips to donate to local hospitals from my workshop in Shoreham.

“The work with the clips has spiralled. I got a large batch made for Worthing Hospital and through the power of Facebook, other people have been asking, which ended up with me doing a small GoFundMe page aimed at friends to help chip in for materials and it’s all growing.

“I have been asked for the clips by various places such as care homes and hospices as well as other hospitals.”

Based in Rusper is Direct Foam, which cuts foam to size for its customers.

Since lockdown it has started making headband foam products for various parts of the NHS across the country.

Eliott Flack, who owns Direct Foam, said: “We felt that by changing our line of work and customer base temporarily, we could contribute towards the hard work that NHS workers are currently facing.

“By supplying these in huge numbers (60,000 with another 140,000 to go... at the moment) we can hopefully support the NHS with the high pressure and high demand of supplies at this time.

“We’ve achieved this by working directly with Southern Foam who are an independent foam supplier local to us.”

Mid-Sussex Timber (MST) - has provided a range of items, including goggles, safety glasses and face masks, in a bid to tackle the shortages faced in the healthcare sector.

The family-run business, which last year celebrated its 90th anniversary, has its headquarters in Forest Row and further branches in Crowborough, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath.

Alex Waters, Mid-Sussex Timber Merchants’ operations director, said: “We were delighted to help with the donation of PPE.

“We can think of no more important place for it to be than with healthcare professionals at this difficult time.”

National trade body the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) co-ordinated a national response across its membership, appealing for donations .

Anna Haskell is the owner of South Coast Mermaids and.

She said: “As I can’t teach my mermaids, I’ve been sewing scrubs for a local GP practice.”

Generation Distillers based in North Chailey has started making hand sanitiser to help during the coronavirus outbreak.

Claire Kentish Barnes is the distiller and owner, she said: “We heard that other bigger distilleries were supplying the NHS and emergency services with hand sanitiser and we thought it would be great if we could do the same.

“We asked via local social media forums whether there was a need in our local communities and the response was overwhelming.”

The team followed the formula designed by the World Health Organisation.

From inception to their first delivery it took two weeks.

For every litre they sell to the public they will give a litre to those in need

It is an unprecedented situation but it is reassuring to see how businesses and individuals are coming together to support key workers, volunteers and the NHS.

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