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College lends its hands, its expertise and even its car parks in the fight against Covid-19

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Over the past month, London South East Colleges @LSEColleges has been overwhelmed by stories of great initiative, endeavour and social enterprise as both staff and students have reported in to help and assist in whichever way possible to the battle against #coronavirus.

Engineering Technician Andrew Halliday from the College’s Bromley Campus has been using both his self-built 3D printer, as well as a departmental one to manufacture full-face protective visors for NHS staff in the community. So far, 58 have been shipped (each one taking approximately 90 minutes to print and assemble) with many more currently in production.

The visors were duly packed and delivered along with a healthy supply of curriculum PPE including 1,400 disposable aprons, 32 boxes of surgical gloves, 110 pairs of safety goggles and bottles of hand sanitiser to Bromley Healthcare Trust and Royal Borough of Greenwich Council (from where it will be passed to their community nursing team) by Vice Principal Tracey Davis and Facilities Manager, Ray Power during the Easter break. Some of the visors will also be making their way to other NHS outlets throughout the country.

To add this, The Bromley Campus car parks (front and rear of the building) are now being used by the London Ambulance Service to park an extra fleet of 40 ambulances during the outbreak.

Tracey said: “This is indeed a very remarkable period for the College and we have had to think meticulously about how we can help the emergency services, the local hospital and health care trusts and look at just about everything we have in terms of expertise, resources and estates that could be useful to the campaign and help bring the coronavirus under control.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to help in quite a few ways. These have come in the form of individual staff members such as Andrew spending hours of his time producing the protective visors, as well as other staff manufacturing face masks, scrubs and students volunteering for frontline assistance in St John Ambulance and working essential shifts in local supermarkets.”

Taking a short break from one of his long production shifts, Andrew said: “I’m just happy to be of use. With the College campuses shut down, there was a limit to what I could do from home as I am a technician and work mainly with the machines and apparatus we use; helping students control them correctly and safely.

“Shortly before the College closed its doors ready for lockdown, I decided to take one of the 3D printers home with me and set it up ready to start producing the visors and foils. I wanted to put it to good use along with another printer I built myself. With all the talk of an acute shortage of protective wear for medical personnel during this pandemic I wanted to contribute whatever I could using the technical skills I have.”

Liz Sharp, one of the College’s SEND tutors has joined a volunteer network of machinists, helpers and material providers in north west Kent and has been busy making sets of scrubs as part of this initiative. It was here that she bumped into two other colleagues who are also involved. Wendy Groombridge, also from the SEND department, has been busy collecting and delivering fabric to and from wholesalers and machinists as well as delivering the finished scrubs to our local hospitals. Carrie Trigg a clothesmaking and pattern cutting tutor from the Adult and Community Learning Centre in Eltham has been busy cutting and sewing scrubs.

Wendy has so far been able to deliver 225 sets of scrubs, 590 laundry bags and 82 hats to local hospitals.

Another member of staff, Trust Head of HR Alison Higham, has been using her creative skills after joining the Maidstone NHS Sewing Group. She makes soft fabric love hearts which are sealed together in pairs. One heart is given to the family of someone who has died in hospital as a keepsake and reminder that their family member was deeply loved. The other heart is placed inside the coffin. Alison, like all of our other volunteers wanted to do something practical while on leave over Easter and to help those left bereaving for someone taken by this disease.

Each day we learn of someone else amongst our London & South East Education Group (LSEEG) family who has decided to put themselves forward and stand with our frontline and essential workers to make a difference and help alleviate the huge burden currently placed on our health service.

Colleges across the UK are currently coming together to support local communities during the coronavirus crisis by providing to local foodbanks. 

Please click here if you would like to make a donation to London & South East Education Group’s FE Foodbank Friday initiative.

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