Volunteers have raised over £10,000 to produce life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) to help shield frontline care staff from the devastating effects of coronavirus.
The team, Brunel Cares, are using the donations to source materials and manufacture much-needed PPE equipment – including gowns, aprons and masks – primarily for use in hospices and care homes, where staff already faced with increased exposure to the virus are reporting severe shortages.
However, the volunteers – which are being drawn from across Brunel University London and its surrounding area to cut, sew and deliver the PPE – have warned further donations of time and money are required if they’re to help fulfil demand and hit their £30,000 fundraising target.
“The importance of adequate supplies of PPE has rightly started to grab headlines. For me, it is a deeply personal story, as my family are working on the NHS frontlines,” said Prof Arad Reisberg, who was inspired to launch the project after he began to worry that water-proof gowns would run out. “I was honestly fearful.”
Prototype designs for a low cost, easy to manufacture gown
Determined to help, Prof Reisberg reached out to hospices and care homes – two areas where the PPE shortage is being acutely felt – to determine their needs and where help was most required, and began recruiting colleagues from across the university to help.
Led by colleagues from Brunel’s Law School, the newly formed team, alongside over 250 volunteers from Ealing and Hillingdon Scrub Hub – an organisation that was already busy sewing new medical scrubs – set to work designing and producing prototypes for PPE that could be manufactured with limited equipment and technical knowledge, and distributed quickly and at low cost to where it’s needed most.
A member of the Brunel Cares team trying a prototype gown on for size
Brunel Cares, which now includes colleagues from Brunel’s design, alumni and procurement teams, as well as Tony Coyne, a partner at the law Firm Blake Morgan, also engaged a separate project being run by volunteers at the university to 3D-print visors for staff at Guy’s and Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, a project that is already producing 1500 face shields a day, to share ideas and pool contacts.
They’re now hoping to raise further donations for materials and to recruit more volunteers to help cut out patterns, sew gowns, aprons and masks, and deliver the finished products to frontline staff.
“We think our targets are achievable, given that it touches everyone’s lives in different ways, but time is of the essence,” said Prof Reisberg, who is Head of Brunel Law School.
“More funding and volunteers will allow us to help as quickly as possible. We see this as a ‘bridging project’ to fill an urgent need. We could really do with more help as the PPE crisis isn’t going to go away any time soon.”
If you can help with either money or time (or both,) please visit:
For cash donations: brunel.hubbub.net/p/Brunel-Makers/
To donate your time: brunel.ac.uk/alumni/Brunel-Cares-Volunteers
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Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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