Wolverhampton firms making PPE during Covid crisis offer new jobs for local people

Two Wolverhampton businesses working together during the Covid-19 pandemic to produce PPE for the NHS have now been able to grow and create new jobs for local people.

(L-R): Airguard Filters owner Maqq Rafique and Pam Covers owner Gurmukh Singh with Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton Cllr Greg Brackenridge outside Pam Covers
(L-R): Airguard Filters owner Maqq Rafique and Pam Covers owner Gurmukh Singh with Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton Cllr Greg Brackenridge outside Pam Covers

The support from Wolverhampton Council's Aim for Gold programme has enabled Airguard Filters Ltd, and Pam Covers Ltd to produce vital PPE supplies to hospitals and care homes in the fight against coronavirus.

Airguard Filters, which specialises in the manufacture of permanent cleanable air filters for power generation and industry, received a £10,799 grant through the scheme.

Based on Watery Lane Industrial Estate, the company is producing PPE for the NHS, winning contracts ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 garments a week with West Midlands hospitals – activity that has created two new jobs, with the vacancies filled through the Council and DWP’s Wolves at Work employment programme.

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As well as supplying the NHS with a variety of surgical gowns and coveralls, it is also making masks, face shields, aprons and hand sanitiser for the general public and businesses.

Airguard Filters owner, Maqq Rafique, said: “Sales at the start of the pandemic for Airguard Filters had started to slip and our intention for the manufacture of gowns was purely reactive and a desire to help our frontline staff.

“We very quickly learned that we had interchangeable skills which allowed us to adapt and start making gowns on an industrial scale.

“I would say that one the biggest assets a SME has, is its ability to think on its feet, as ultimately the situation is such we need to survive.

Survived

“The pandemic has allowed us to change our business model into an industry that we were totally unaware of. We are hopeful that the future is bright."

Upper Villiers Street-based Pam Covers, manufactures products for the bed mattress industry. It has been supported by an Aim for Gold grant of £11,250 to help buy six specialist sewing machines to add to its quilt-making machines, enabling it to produce quilting that can be used in making jackets, coats, winter wear, sports clothing, sound reducing products and filtration products – and filtration components for Airguard Filters’ PPE products.

Since the start of the year the people the company employs has increased from five to 18.

Pam Covers owner, Gurmukh Singh, said: “The business has survived a very difficult period. We are now stronger and can go forward with new projects as well as existing business.

“We are proud to have helped a lot of people into employment and continued to train them. Our long-term goal is to retain staff even after the pandemic is over.

“The Aim for Gold programme has given us confidence to invest and create jobs. A special thanks goes out to Business Development Officer, Sharan, who has supported me through the grant application process.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “We’ve been working closely with both these companies for some time now and it is good to see that despite the pandemic, they are not only surviving but also growing and creating vital jobs for local people.

“The ‘Aim for Gold’ programme is open to most small and medium sized businesses in Wolverhampton. The support we can offer can be critical, especially in these difficult times, and is an important part of our Relighting the City strategy.

“It gives the businesses the support they need to help them continue to thrive and grow, and to look ahead to better times once the pandemic is over.”

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