Rugby's rate of of confirmed Covid-19 infections and Covid-19 deaths has been below the national average - a fact one senior doctor has said is partially down to the hard work of volunteers in the area.

For months, groups in and around Rugby have worked together to produce a wide range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the NHS, Carers and the community.

Dr Norman Byrd, Clinical Director Rugby Health, expressed his thanks by saying “So far Rugby has suffered a lower than average incidence of cases and deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. I believe that the Rugby PPE Response initiative contributed to this by delivering face visors to Care Homes and NHS staff who were not in what was perceived to be the front line when the crisis emerged.

We must also thank the numerous seamstresses co-ordinated by the Warwickshire Scrubbers, Benn Partnership Centre and the Friends of St Cross who have made scrubs, scrub bags and gowns for medical staff and cloth face masks for the vulnerable members of the community."

Willy Goldschmidt, Chairman of the Friends of St Cross and one of the founding members of the Rugby PPE Response initiative said “It has been tremendous to see how the community came together to support the NHS and the Care Sector in the last four months. With support from Friends volunteers, many individuals using domestic 3D printers and partner organisations including Rugby School and Coventry University we have delivered over 13,000 face visors to over 150 organisations.”

“Together with the Warwickshire Scrubbers, we have also delivered 12,000 other items of PPE such as scrubs, scrub bags and ear protectors for front line staff across the NHS and Care Sector. We are now turning our focus to making cloth face masks for vulnerable members of the community with the aim of distributing 10,000 of these by the end of July! ”

“It was great to meet and thank Lara Hampton, Assistant Head, Rugby School, David Holton Trustee of the Rugby Group Benevolent Fund, Gita Natarajan of the Benn Partnership Centre and some of the seamstresses at the Benn Partnership Centre. There are doubtless many others who we have not met but have done invaluable work in producing PPE and supporting those who are vulnerable or are shielding”

Lara Hampton said “Our innovative Design Department at Rugby School created a design for an easily manufactured face visor.  Rugby School staff were extremely keen to give their time to manufacture and distribute these to those who needed them including Myton Hospice, The Hospital of St Cross, local care homes, GP surgeries and primary schools, in addition to donating all our PPE equipment normally used around the School.  We were pleased to collaborate with Willy and the Rugby PPE Response team and to contribute to the magnificent local effort to support our front-line workers”

 Gita Natarajan, Beyond Brexit Project Manager for the Benn Partnership Centre said “The Partnership has a network of over 100 stitchers from diverse ethnicities, which we mobilised when the Government advised the public to wear cloth face masks when outdoors! Till date, cloth face masks have been distributed to the vulnerable members of the community in multiple occupancy homes and social housing tenancies as well as through Rugby Food Bank, Hope 4, Rugby Street Pastors, members of Alzheimer’s Society, U3A, Rugby Parkinson’s Society, and many others.  We recognised that both the Friends of St Cross and ourselves would need to raise money to buy raw materials and so we are most grateful for the support we have received from the Rugby Group Benevolent Fund which has enabled us to continue with our initiatives which will undoubtedly save many from catching this awful virus. We would welcome further donations which can be made on-line at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/RugbyPPEResponse or directly to The Benn Partnership Centre or The Friends of St Cross”

David Holton said “On behalf of the trustees of the Rugby Group Benevolent Fund we are delighted to see a contribution of the Greater Rugby Community in this vital project.”

Sandy Weaver and Michele Goode, Co-Ordinators for Rugby and Warwickshire Scrubbers, said “Since the Rugby and Coventry Branch of Warwickshire Scrubbers was set up on 4th April, we have in excess of 180 sewing ladies and gents and have delivered over 7,000 items such as Scrub suits, Scrub Caps, Laundry Bags, Headbands and Ear Savers and Face Coverings to George Elliot Hospital, University Hospital Coventry and the Hospital of St Cross, Northampton General, Medical Centres in Rugby and Coventry, NHS Nursing Homes & Care Workers, NHS Dental Practices as well as special orders for individuals from Kettering Hospital and Warwick Hospital.”

“It has been a humbling experience being part of a wonderful community project which was born out of urgent local need to react to the pandemic hitting the UK.  It has been amazing to see how the local community has contributed to this project both in terms of home sewing and financial donations towards the costs of fabric.”    

“There has also been great feedback from the 'Scrubbers' of a sense of purpose during the lockdown period.  So much so that the group has decided to continue under the new branding of "Warwickshire Sewing Bees" to continue to work on other Community Projects.” 

More information about the Rugby PPE Response initiative can be found on www.rugby-ppe-response.org.uk and https://www.facebook.com/RugbyPPEResponse

Photos:-

1. Seamstresses met Gita Natarajan, Willy Goldschmidt, David Holton and Lara Hampton at the Benn Partnership Centre also in attendance was Ramesh Srivastava, Trustee of the Friends of St Cross.

2. Community leaders and vulnerable citizens receive some of the first cloth face masks - each has a label instructing the owners to either hot wash or hot iron the face mask before and after use.