De Montfort University opens sports complex as a distribution centre for vital PPE kit

Vital PPE kit is being prepped, packed and sent out to healthcare workers and hospital staff from a new distribution centre based at De Montfort University (DMU).

The university has converted sports facility The Watershed off Upperton Road, Leicester, into a regional outlet for national aid organisation 3D Crowd UK, which plugs gaps in the traditional PPE supply chain. Over the next few days orders for 3,000 visors will be sent to care homes, hospitals and health workers.

Face shields and visors printed to NHS standard will be sent to hospitals, care homes and health workers around Leicestershire from the base, one of five in the East Midlands to be distribution hubs for the kit.

Volunteers, co-ordinated by DMU Local public engagement team, are sorting, sterilising and packing the donations which are then sent to health workers around the county.

They will also be packing medical scrubs designed and made by technicians and lecturers at DMU’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities, and face shields printed by Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media (CEM) both destined for Leicester’s hospitals.

Jess Bogic, Widening Participation Manager at DMU Local, said: “We are very proud to be working with 3D Crowd and helping to distribute this much-needed kit to health workers across the county.”

“It has been a real team effort from DMU – members of the Estates team organised for The Watershed’s specialist sports floor to be covered and the building converted into the new centre, staff have been redeployed from their day jobs to support the work, others have been printing 3D equipment and sewing scrubs.”

3D Crowd UK was set up just a few weeks ago to help co-ordinate a supply of printed PPE kit. People who had 3D printers at home or in their businesses were able to download a design for a face visor, print them, and bring them to distribution centres where they were sent to health workers.

There are now around 8,000 volunteers across the country working with the organisation.

One is DMU Architecture graduate Rachel Marshall, of Leicester’s Maber Architects, who is the Leicestershire area co-ordinator of 3D Crowd UK. She helps set up distribution centres across the region, co-ordinating volunteering and orders from health workers.

Rachel, who graduated in 2018, said: “There are a whole team of volunteers working across Leicestershire who are all playing their part, it really is a team effort. It is great to be able to help our community, even in a small way, by getting PPE to where it needs to be.”