Individuals and businesses 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.

Proteus Packaging
Proteus Packaging

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 other protecting equipment.

Proteus Packaging in Upper Dicker near Hailsham usually manufactures packaging such as boxes.

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Many of its usual customers are retail, and with lockdown closing all but essential shops its owner took the decision to make face masks for the NHS.

Jane's Stitches

Pete Davie, plant manager, said: “We are a small company but don’t like to say no to a challenge.

“Within two to three days we had samples and prices to see how viable it would be and then started production. It was amazing turnaround and really satisfying to send out 5,000 to Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals.”

Jane Barrie owns alterations and clothes repair shop Jane’s Stitches in Tower Street, Rye.

She said: “I closed the shop due to the virus, to protect my staff and my clients.”

Handmade scrubs

Since then Jane has been making face masks for the volunteers of the Rye Mutual Aid group.

She said: “When the group started up and needed people who could sew face masks for the volunteers who get shopping and medication for vulnerable people in the Rye area, I decided to help out.

“So now I’m making face masks and leaving bundles of elastic and bias binding in bags in a larger bag in the porch of the shop.

“That way anyone who is sewing for the RMA can help themselves to the materials to make the face masks.”

Joe Nguyen is director at Starlings Art & Craft Collective in Bexhill.

He has started a campaign to make 1,000 face masks for non-medical key workers and carers through www.starlingsgifts.co.uk

He said: “We saw the emergency need. We knew we did not have the funds or the time to get all the governmental approvals for our masks but we wanted to also take the pressure of the N95 mask shortages out there and concentrated on non medical key workers – such as social care sector. We wanted to help.

“Stage two is deployment. We are now rolling it out to the requesters who are in desperate need.

“We have stage 3 which is to handover to any other groups to start their own 1,000 face mask campaign in their local area to match their community need.”

Anna Haskell is the owner of South Coast Mermaids and said: “As I can’t teach my mermaids, I’ve been sewing scrubs for a local GP practice.”

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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