A group of volunteers at Altrincham Open Studios are making thousands of PPE visors for local care homes, medical centres and hospitals after raising over £7,000 in a crowd-funding campaign.
The Stamford New Road charity usually puts on arts classes for the community but decided having machinery scuh as a 3D printers and laser cutters already at the centre, it decided to help alleviate the shortage of PPE equipment by making visors for healthcare workers.
But to ramp up its production capabilities, Open Studios launched a crowdfunding campaign and it quickly smashed its £5,000 target, with over £7,500 now contributed.
Despite a national shortage of acetate and polypropylene, the materials used to make the visors, Open Studios then managed to secure a “large amount of materials” online, and were last week loaned a second laser cutter that they were able to get working.
Jo Cushing, from Open Studios, said: “After some tinkering about we were able to get it working and it is now producing lots of straps increasing our production tremendously.
“We have had a small army of volunteers helping us. The cutting and assembling process is now streamlined and we have several operators laser cutting from 5am in the morning through to 3am at night to produce the bands.
“Once cut, the pieces of the band are cleaned and separated into packs of 50. They are then collected from the studio, taken home for assembling and returned. Masks are then given out for free to anyone who is at risk.”
Cushing said the volunteers had already supplied around 5,000 masks to dozens of places, including Wythenshawe Hospital, Wyncourt Nursing Home in Timperley, Bladons chemists in Hale and Lady of the Vale nursing home in Bowdon.
Vicky Banks Pascoe, manager at Our Lady of the Vale, hailed one of the Open Studios volunteers: “Big shout out to Luke who very kindly made a special trip to deliver some much needed (and hard to find) face visors to Lady of the Vale Nursing Home today… fabulous thank you and it made me and other staff emotional! Thank you so much!”
Cushing said the volunteers were hoping to make 20,000 visors initially with the funding raised so far.