Lecturers and technicians from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are using their skills and equipment to answer the calls for more hospital scrubs, scrub bags, face masks and plastic visors.
While the DMU campus is in lockdown, a small army of experts from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities (ADH), are coming into work to use sewing machines, laser cutters and printing presses to manufacture much-needed clothing and PPE for health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plastic visors are being manufactured by people from Product Design and screen printers, while the scrubs and wash bags – for carrying dirty uniforms home to wash – are being made by staff from the School of Fashion and Textiles.
Gavin Kew, Faculty Operations Manager for ADH, said: “We have technical staff and academic staff on campus at the moment manufacturing visors, masks, scrubs and scrub bags for the NHS and the care sector.
“We’re doing this because, basically, we can. We have the skills to do it and we have the equipment to do it and we all have a will and determination to do our bit for health workers who are battling this pandemic.
“I’m just so proud of the team who are doing this. We have so many skills being put to use and they were all desperate to come in and do their bit.”
Jo Earl, a technical instructor in the Fashion department, has been working at DMU for 13 years but prior to that was a fashion designer for children’s leisurewear.
She has drawn on her industry background to design hospital scrubs. The patterns she has created are due to go to a factory in Leicester where Jo has a contact, to cut the material paid for by DMU, in bulk. She is also working with fellow technical instructor Diljit Kaur to make scrub bags.
Jo said: “Because of the skills I have got, I feel I ought to do something to help. I am quite happy coming in and making the scrubs. If these designs go to a factory I will also be happy as it is keeping their workers employed.
“I am delighted to do my bit. I don’t feel so useless now,’ she laughed. “I honestly felt guilty when DMU went into lockdown and we had to go home so I am glad I am back here doing my bit.”
Nick Rowan, a senior lecturer in Product Design, is helping to produce hundreds of plastic visors for health workers. Laser cutters are used. They then have foam attached and screen printers from the Arts department are putting a blue band across the top of the visor.
The visors are being made in two different sizes after Nick’s team heard that many female medical staff were unhappy that visors were in one size designed to fit larger male heads and so kept slipping.
Nick said: “We have come up with a design which means we can make as many of these visors as possible in the shortest time.
“The best thing about this project is it has involved teams from across the university. I think it is so important at this time that DMU pulls together the skills we have, use the contacts we have in industry and work together to help health workers.”