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Heartwarming campaign to provide PPE

By Tom Dare | Birmingham | Business | Published:

A Birmingham-based business has launched a campaign to provide Personal Protective Equipment to frontline NHS staff.

Zhagum Arshad, owner of Loft 25 and founder of the campaign - image courtesy of Loft 25

Loft 25, ordinarily a home and garden furnishings company, has been using an army of sewing volunteers to provide free PPE to staff across the NHS.

Operating from their premises in the city centre, Loft 25 is providing the raw materials for coveralls, which it is then distributing to a city-wide group of around 300 sewing volunteers.

The volunteers then turn the raw materials into PPE, which is collected by Loft 25, before being passed on for inspection by local NHS hospitals and trusts.

The campaign is currently in its first full week of operation, and has now passed its first lot of PPE on to the NHS for inspection.

And for Zhagum Arshad, owner of Loft 25 and founder of the campaign, the decision to help out was an easy one.

“We’re not a company that specialises in PPE – it’s not something we’d ever made before,” he said.

“But we can’t just stand by and watch. In a crisis like this, it’s time to stand up and be counted. It’s time for us to do our part.

“Don’t let the NHS and frontline services take the brunt of this, all on our behalf, without lifting a finger. It’s time for us as companies, as organisations all over this country, in every single city, to get on our sewing machines, open up our factories, and produce for those frontline workers.

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“At the end, when all of this is over, are we going to be able to satisfy our own hearts, knowing we could have done more and we didn’t? This is a chance for us all to come together and put this protective gear together, give them what they need.

“Don’t think your contribution is going to be too small – we’re not the biggest company, we’ve not got the most resources, but we’ve stood up and said ‘look, there’s a difference that we can make.’ And we’re hoping that inspires others to do the same thing.”

So far 30 completed coveralls have been sent to the NHS for testing, and there are currently around 1,000 pieces in production – though Loft 25 says it wants to get the figure up to around 700 pieces a week.

Between 300 and 400 volunteer machinists have already signed up to help the campaign, with representatives from Heartlands hospital, Solihull Hospital, Worcester Hospital and Birmingham Mental Health Trust already enquiring about the availability of materials.

One of those giving up her time to support the campaign is 85-year-old Shirley Hamilton, who says she been sewing since she was just five-years-old.

Tom Dare

By Tom Dare

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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