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There With You: Redbridge schools use wartime-like effort to create thousands of PPE

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 May 2020

Woodbridge High School's DT teacher Seumas O'Brien with a limited edition 1,000 visor. Picture: Woodbridge High School

Woodbridge High School's DT teacher Seumas O'Brien with a limited edition 1,000 visor. Picture: Woodbridge High School

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Schools across Redbridge have answered the call to make up for a shortage of PPE by creating thousands of visors to keep frontline workers safe.

The DT teachers wanted to mark the milestone of making 1,000 visors for NHS workers by creating a numbered, limited edition visor. Picture: Woodbridge High SchoolThe DT teachers wanted to mark the milestone of making 1,000 visors for NHS workers by creating a numbered, limited edition visor. Picture: Woodbridge High School

This week Woodbridge High School’s Design & Technology (DT) department created a numbered, limited edition visor to celebrate the 1,000th piece of equipment made using the school’s 3D printers.

As of last week Valentine’s High School had created well over 1,200 visors and teachers at Caterham High School, using laser cutters and polypropylene plastic, normally used for student class projects, made more than 500 shields and counting.

The materials used initially were from school supplies however it quickly needed to be sourced externally after the requests started pouring in.

Schools such as Beal High School, Bancroft’s, Seven Kings School and others have all joined the wartime-like effort to help supply protective equipment for Redbridge Council, all the east London hospitals, care homes, and GP surgeries across Redbridge and neighbouring boroughs.

Alex Allen as Cinderella and Seumas O'Brien as Mario. Picture: Woodbridge High SchoolAlex Allen as Cinderella and Seumas O'Brien as Mario. Picture: Woodbridge High School

The schools can hardly keep up with the demand as more and more health care professionals get in touch asking for much-needed donations.

Woodbridge High Headteacher Steven Hogan said: “It has been a real privilege for us as a school to do what we can to support our colleagues in the NHS and care sector where we know they are in real need of personal protective equipment.

“The D&T department have been amazing in setting up their own mini-factory in recent weeks!

“We are really proud to be able to make this small gesture to help where we can.”

Birchwood Care Home careworker Zanaida Fortes and Head of DT at Caterham Sarah Buxoo. Picture: Tom BarnesBirchwood Care Home careworker Zanaida Fortes and Head of DT at Caterham Sarah Buxoo. Picture: Tom Barnes

Along with the limited edition visor, to help brighten the mood Woodbridge’s D&T teachers also created visors with cartoon characters on them for nurseries open for children of keyworkers.

D&T teacher Alex Allen said: “We are living through difficult times and the people who use our PPE have it the hardest,”

The school set up a fundraiser to raise money for the equipment which is close to hitting £5,000 and created a dedicated email address (dtppefund@woodbridgehigh.co.uk) where NHS workers or carehome staff needing visors can request them.

The school’s visor production was so successful they have now started making scrubs as well.

Some of the other schools have used volunteers such as Shamik Ghosh to help distribute their visors to places in need.

To help save time, the team at Beal High School showed Shamik how to do the final assembly of the visors and he enlisted the help of his six-year-old son Shlok to help finish the work before delivery.

Teachers across the borough used prototypes available online to put their school’s 3D printers to use to churn out as many visors as possible.

Head of food and textiles at Caterham High Sarah Buxoo said: “Every morning I would listen to the news and hear the stories of a shortage of PPE equipment. I knew I could help.

Head of Ursuline Keran Reilly on the production line. Picture: Rose RussellHead of Ursuline Keran Reilly on the production line. Picture: Rose Russell

“We are key workers but not like those in hospitals and in care homes risking their lives to keep everyone safe and look after their health.

“We just wanted to do this small thing that could not only help to keep them safe but also show that we care and appreciate what they are doing for us.

“That is what we have been doing here at Caterham but also across the country.

“It is another great example of the community and country coming together.

Ursuline donated visors to Newham Hospital where the parent of a student works. Picture: Rose RussellUrsuline donated visors to Newham Hospital where the parent of a student works. Picture: Rose Russell

Caterham Headteacher Belinda Chapple said she was proud of the innovation and how schools have turned into factories to meet the demand.

She said: “Its great to be part of the Redbridge community pulling together.”

Ursuline Academy Headteacher Keran Reilly got in on the action and joined the assembly line to help make a batch of visors for the theatre team at Newham General where the parent of an Ursuline student works.

She said: “There is strength in numbers as they say.”


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