Cumbrian businesses are being invited to support the national effort to increase the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep front line health and social care staff safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The challenge has been launched by the Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group (BERRG) of the Local Resilience Forum, which is responsible for developing the business and economy response to COVID-19.
BERRG Chair Jo Lappin is confident that many businesses in Cumbria have the skills and expertise to effectively respond to the Cumbria PPE Manufacturing Challenge.
She said: “We already know that our businesses are committed to doing everything that they can to support national efforts to respond to COVID-19, as demonstrated by their excellent response to our recent call to donate PPE.
“Their generosity was very much appreciated and made a real difference in protecting our most vulnerable citizens and our most precious assets – our health and social care workers.
“However, demand continues and in order to meet this we need to encourage more businesses to produce PPE. Cumbria has an excellent manufacturing base and we would like to encourage the innovative and creative businesses that we have here to explore how they might support the Cumbria PPE Manufacturing Challenge.
“They can do this by re-purposing their production lines to produce equipment in line with the latest Government specifications for PPE, which are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/technical-specifications-for-personal-protective-equipment-ppe.
“Our priority items include IIR fluid repellent face masks, surgical gowns, FFP face masks and visors/goggles.”
They can register that interest direct with BERRG via the following link: https://bit.ly/PPEChallenge
“I am aware that some businesses have responded to the national request and we do not want to cut across this. However, we would be happy to hear from these businesses so that we can follow up their offers of support with government,” she said.
Stephen Hall, Chair of the LRF’s PPE sub-group and Cumbria County Council’s Assistant Director of Economy and Environment, said: “We are asking local businesses to help us by becoming a key part of the team in Cumbria who are helping us tackle COVID-19.
“We are very keen to hear from, and work with, local companies who can manufacture the PPE we need, to the right specification. By doing this together, we can help protect Cumbria’s front line staff who are all working so hard in our hospitals, care homes, and communities to protect the most vulnerable.”
Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery is chair of Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forum.
He said: “Increasing the amount of PPE available will keep front-line health and social care staff safe during the Covid-19 outbreak and help slow the spread of the virus.
“There are already some great examples of local, Cumbria businesses using the skill and expertise of their workforce to help make a difference.
“However, demand for Personal Protective Equipment will not subside any time soon and any business who is able to assist in the manufacture of such items will be potentially saving the lives of local people.”
Mrs Lappin, who is also the Chief Executive of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “I’ve said before that Cumbrian businesses are renowned for their community spirit, innovation, creativity and ingenuity.
“We’re all immensely grateful for everything they’ve done so far and I’ve no doubt that, where they can, they will meet the Cumbria PPE Manufacturing Challenge with the same spirit of innovation and commitment to their local communities.”
The equipment provided will be issued to key medical and social care facilities across Cumbria, with collection available, if needed.