'We have the time, the skills, and the NHS is desperate': Sheffield school's 'call to arms' to help create thousands of protective visors

A Sheffield school is hoping to convert empty classrooms into a temporary factory, producing thousands of protective visors for our NHS staff across the region.

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 4:13 pm

What started as a Twitter appeal for materials has now become a rousing call to arms, from Bradfield School’s head of design technology, who has urged other school DT departments across the city to join them in the fight again coronavirus.

Sam Booth, along with three other teachers in his department, is seeking schools to join forces with, pooling resources and time, in the hope of creating thousands of full-face visors to help protect those working in hospitals, GPsurgeries, care homes, and police forces across the region.

“There are DT teachers all across the city, like us, with time on their hands, and the skills and equipment to produce these visors, which the NHS badly needs,” said Sam, who has been head of the DT department for the past four years.

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Sarah, another colleague from Bradfield's DT department, makes up samples of the visor, to test the design

“All around the world, we’re seeing people step up and get creative in their effort to help, and we’d like this to be a collective effort from the schools of Sheffield.

“The NHS has masks and aprons, but they’re desperately short of full-face visors. Meanwhile this virus is continuing to spread, and we want to get as many of these out there as possible - and not just to hospitals.

“Everything that can be sourced is obviously being sent to the frontline, which is priority, but they’re also needed for GP surgeries, care homes and police forces.

“We want to send them everywhere they’re needed.”But to create these masks, the team of teachers need two vital ingredients: 0.5mm polypropylene sheet, and minimum 100 micron clear acetate/polycarbonate/PVC.

Sarah, another colleague from Bradfield's DT department, makes up samples of the visor, to test the design

“We’ve had offers from some plastics companies, which is amazing, but it’s not easy getting the exact specification we need to be able to laser cut these in school,” Sam added.

“If anybody has access to any of these materials, and is happy to supply, we’d be enormously grateful.”

Sam is preparing to launch a Crowdfunder page to help cover the costs of everything needed to create this life-protecting equipment.

“At the minute, the other teachers and I are ordering materials ourselves, and this Crowdfunder will hopefully go some way to covering costs, so that all of our wives and husbands don’t start wondering why they’ve got huge amounts of polypropylene showing on their credit card bills,” he laughed.

Sarah, another colleague from Bradfield's DT department, makes up samples of the visor, to test the design

The visors themselves are relatively simple to produce, using a straightforward design published online by a materials company.

“My colleague Sarah has been trialling the design at her home this week, as she has a laser cutter,” Sam explained.

“The plan, if we can get access to the school, is to spend two days there early next week and, between a team of four of us, produce around 1,000 visors to begin with.

“Obviously we will have to adhere to all social distancing rules whilst working, so it’ll probably be one of us working on laser cutting, one cutting the visors, and two assembling and packaging. And all of this will have to be done whilst wearing full protective equipment.

Sarah, another colleague from Bradfield's DT department, makes up samples of the visor, to test the design

“We’ve already spoken to Northern General and a number of local doctors surgeries, who are keen to get their hands on some, and we’re hopeful that, by the end of those two days, we’ll have sourced more materials and be able to just keep going.

“The NHS is desperate, and we have the time, so we’ll keep going until everybody has everything they need.

“King Ecgberts have already come on board to work with us on this, and we’d love to hear from other school DT departments.

“The more help and resources we have, the more we can do.

“Now is the time for positivity, action, and everyone coming together.”

A crowdfunding page has since been launched by the Tapton School School Academy Trust.

The DT teams at Bradfield and Chaucer Schools – which are both part of the trust – aim to make over 1000 shields next week.

Visit @BradfieldDT on Twitter for information, or to contact Sam and the team to offer services, support, or materials.

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