City of Bristol College staff have been using their lockdown time to give back to the NHS and care workers who have been working hard during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the UK, there are now more than 171,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases and more than 26,700 people with the virus have died. Public testing has grown with more than 80,000 tests being carried out in 24 hours – as of 9am on April 30.
However, with the rise in confirmed cases and deaths, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff, care workers and other key workers continues to grow. This need has sparked a nationwide call to gather more PPE as well as scrubs washing bags and headbands to aid key workers in the fight to overcome the Coronavirus outbreak.
Engineering and Aero Programme Leader, Matthew Bridge has come on board with the initiative to create full-screen masks utilising the college’s 3D printer at the Advanced Engineering Centre (AEC) at Parkway.
Matthew has been making the necessary trip to the College’s AEC each week to set up, load, unload and create full-screen masks for NHS staff in Bristol while strictly observing required social distancing guidelines
The visors are made up of a printed medical grade bio-compatible acrylic polymer which Matthew takes from the printer and jet washes. He then uses laminate and acetate pouches to create the protective screen across the face.
Matthew said: “With the materials we have at the moment we should be able to make 28 visors but making these masks isn’t a quick jobs. I am able to 3D print four visors at a time which takes around 15 hours. It then takes me about an hour to wash them and get them ready to go. So, it takes between 16-17 hours to create just four masks.
“It is fantastic that we are able to contribute and do our bit for the NHS, because they need all the help they can get to save lives. This is a fine example of ways that Bristol’s main FE college has contributed to the community and its local hospitals.”
On the other hand, the craft skills of A Level Art and Photography Lecturer, Laura Jefferson, and Marketing Assistant, Jeannette Walsh have been put to good use too by creating accessories which will make wearing PPE more comfortable for NHS staff and care workers.
Through her local community group in Nailsea, Laura has been making headbands and scrubs bags for care workers. These drawstring bags allow NHS and care workers to change from their scrubs at the end of the day and wash them at home, immediately, separate from the rest of the washing to avoid cross contamination.
She said: “We are making them for hospitals, the army and several other organisations. We have a team of around 100 volunteers and have made more than 1,000 bags and headbands so far. We are working across North Somerset to help the NHS as much as we can.”
Laura and her community group have even received a letter from the House of Commons thanking them for their work. They are now calling for donations of material, thread and buttons in order to continue creating more headbands and scrubs bags. Donations can be made through the group’s PayPal account.
The group is now creating elephant cuddly toys which will be given to local children to help them cope through the Coronavirus lockdown.
Due to a health condition which requires Jeannette to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak, she has been working strictly from home for the last 6 weeks, without the ability to make essential trips or exercise outdoors.
After seeing a call for support in a Facebook COVID-19 Community Response group, she said: “I heard about care workers and NHS staff asking for drawstring bags to wash their scrubs as well as headbands to stop the elastic on face masks rubbing open sores around their ears after very long shifts.
“At least sewing is something I can do. There is a huge number of people around the country who are making these things for NHS staff and I am lucky to have a friend who is working with teams of care workers and district nurses who in particular are in desperate need of any and all equipment they can get hold of.
“It is vital that all those people, who are literally risking their lives, are kept as safe as possible and made a little more comfortable while they do this important job. I am about to reach my 100th headband/bag set and I will keep sewing until somebody tells me to stop!”
All college employees supporting the production of safety items for care workers have been doing so in their spare time and using their good will, while continuing to work from home to deliver online lessons to students or work in an administrative capacity.
City of Bristol College Principal and Chief Executive, Andy Forbes commented: “The work Matthew, Laura and Jeannette have carried out in their free time really reflects our college values of integrity, ambition, respect and pride and I am proud to be a part of such a committed community of staff. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for their dedication to our care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.”
If you would like to donate materials for the creation of more visors, headbands and scrubs bags for the NHS and care workers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.