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Fighting Covid-19: from north to south

30 April 2020

Stories are beginning to emerge which point to the resourcefulness and humanity of ordinary people in extraordinary times. When workers use their initiative, there is no end to what they can achieve.

Home-made masks from Leeds

A couple in Leeds used their 3D printer at home to make sterile, eco-friendly protective masks for health care workers. Because demand was so high, they acquired three more printers, and now produce 1,500 visors a week.

Buses become alternative NHS accommodation

In the North East, a fleet of luxury sleeper buses, formerly used by touring bands, has been offered to hospital car parks as alternative accommodation for staff, particularly those with a long commute.

Staff at North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust are able to sleep and relax while maintaining appropriate distancing.

Castleford factory re-tools to make PPE

Fashion brand Burberry is fast-tracking delivery of surgical masks to the NHS, and has retooled its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire, to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients.

Valve cooperation in Bury

From Bury, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, a remarkable story of Anglo-Italian cooperation.

Hillstone Products supplies electrical equipment for the battery industry. One of its engineers discovered that an Italian company had made a venturi breathing valve used in ventilators, and had uploaded the files so that others could follow suit. Hillstone deployed its 3D printers, and, in collaboration with manufacturers Mackart Additive from Staffordshire, was able to produce a simpler version of the valve for home ventilator kits for patients in intensive care. Clinicians from Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital tested and approved the device.

Teachers produce face protectors

Also in Bury, two teachers have been busy making plastic face protectors. Matt Grundy, head of Design and Technology, told the Bury Times he knew that his school had a well equipped technology department and that it would be wrong to leave this idle when it could be put to good use. 

Working with fellow teacher Vicky Craig they put together a design over a couple of days. Using all available materials in the school dozens of face masks were produced and distributed to a local supermarket, care home and funeral parlour. 

The school has appealed to local companies to supply polypropylene between 0.5 and 0.8 millimetres thick so that more masks can be made. Already a local sign-making company has stepped forward.

Mutual aid in Kent

In Kent 23-year-old Francis O’Brien has set up a network to support Covid-19 Mutual Aid Facebook groups. O’Brien used his communications and events skills to ensure that people who need to self-isolate have community support to receive their medicines and shopping.  

Having set up a mutual aid group in his own area, O’Brien was approached by others for advice on how to do the same in their own locality. There are now 15,000 people connected through a network of groups across Kent. Virtually the whole of the county is covered.