We wanted to share the story of how alumni have made a huge contribution to efforts by the University of Hull to support workers in the NHS and Care Homes through the COVID-19 crisis. Along with staff, students and friends of the university, alumni supported a project to produce and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect frontline workers from COVID-19.
Your support was overwhelming, and we were humbled not only by the donations that we received, but by the sheer volume of people expressing support for the project, making contributions to the crowdfund campaign, and sharing our links to the fundraising page and news stories around the appeal. We are truly grateful to everyone who supported this project, and are delighted to have this opportunity to share with you the impact so far, on what has been a really inspiring story.
As the COVID-19 crisis began unfolding and the issues surrounding equipping nurses, carers and doctors with adequate PPE became apparent, staff in the University of Hull’s Faculty of Science and Engineering were approached by a local NHS Trust looking for help. Working with the Trust they developed a new design for Face Shields that was safe to use, light, and effective at protecting wearers who would be on the front line of the fight against the pandemic, caring for and treating patients.
Face shields were initially produced on University 3D-printing equipment and donated to local hospitals and care homes. In order to expand production, a partnership was established with a local injection moulding firm. We shared the design with other consortiums, across the country, also seeking to produce shields for key workers. The only problem was securing sufficient funds to support a pipeline of materials for producing the shields – this is where you stepped in.
Within four hours of the campaign going live, alumni responded to a call for support of our crowdfund campaign by smashing our initial target of £5,000. By the end of the bank holiday weekend you had contributed almost £15,000. Currently over 1,070 alumni, staff, students and friends of the University of Hull have donated over £31,000 to the crowdfund campaign, securing the supply of materials, making the project viable and enabling us to help protect those who are working on the frontline, caring for those who are ill or vulnerable.
Without you, this project would not have had the reach or the impact that it has, and your support has contributed to what has essentially been a snowball effect that has included support and partnerships with others who have wanted to ensure that our NHS staff and carers are protected.
Nathan Brown, senior lecturer in the department of Engineering at the University of Hull and lead on this project, said: “Across the University, we have worked together to develop the designs, increase production capacity, raise funds to invest in additional materials, and organise delivery. It has been great to see everyone come together and to see the schools and colleges in the region getting involved too. It is a great example of what can be achieved when everyone gets behind a project.”
In total more than £80,000 has been raised for the project to fund materials to meet high demand for the face shields from the NHS and other healthcare organisations in the region. The University received a very generous donation of £50,000 from a trust fund established by AB Graphic International Ltd, a Bridlington company – which directly funded 25,000 face shields that will be donated free to NHS and healthcare workers.
Partners in this project include Advanced Plastics, WHW Plastics and the University’s Aura Innovation Centre, Hull University Business School, as well as schools and colleges, who have been helping to ensure that need within the community for the face shields is located and met.
While the University has developed new designs and agile manufacturing techniques to increase production capacity across the country, we received more than 196 requests for face shields and the team working on the project were concerned that there was still a need for face shields out in the community that wasn’t being met: care providers reporting difficulties in accessing PPE stock from their normal suppliers.
An innovative project designed to identify and supply organisations that would benefit from face shield supplies was quickly organised – drawing on the networks and enthusiasm of the University’s partner schools and colleges.
Fiona Walkley, a marketing lecturer at Hull University Business School who is co-ordinating the project with the University’s schools liaison team, said:
“We wanted to reach into communities in the region to get the face shields out into care homes, funeral directors, GP surgeries and any other health/social care organisations that may still need PPE – and we realised this was a way to do it. It helps those who need the face shields – and it also helps those sixth formers to build their skills and give back to their communities at this important time.”
“We have had a great response to the project from the schools: the sixth formers and careers teams have really seen the benefit for everyone.”
We want to thank you for supporting this project, and to share with you some of the comments that we have received from recipients of the face shields, to show you just how much of a difference these shields have made.
“On behalf of myself, staff and residents, we would like to say a HUGE thank you to all those involved in the making of the visors. We are extremely grateful for your hard work, support and dedication throughout this difficult time. Stay Safe. Again THANK YOU.”
“This has enabled us to be reassured that we can still continue to give the best care to our residents in these uncertain times while still protecting ourselves and our own families .”
“Good Afternoon we have just received some new face shields we are very grateful they are fantastic quality and will keep us and our lovely residents that bit safer will we endeavour to beat this demon of a virus. We wish you all well and may god keep us all safe and well. Thank-you all so much from the very grateful care team.”