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Wheelchair upholstery team turn their talents to making PPE

Wheelchair upholstery team turn their talents to making PPE
9th May 2020 Ian Streets

Staff at a disability enterprise who usually make wheelchair upholstery have turned their talents to producing thousands of masks for frontline NHS staff battling coronavirus.
The Mirror reported that the 26 employees at Exeter-based Devon Disability Collective, most of whom have physical or learning disabilities or mental health issues, have made out 3,000 face shields since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
The company says it has the capacity to produce more personal protective equipment for the health service in response to reports of chronic shortages.
Steve Gallin, the company’s Operations Director, said: “When we heard about supply issues and shortages we thought we might be able to help.
“The team all wanted to do their bit for the UK’s response to the pandemic and to show that local manufacturing can play a part in fulfilling the increased demand for different products.
“We’ve had an excellent response to the PPE products we’ve produced so far and we’ve certainly got capacity to do more around various products.”
Jenny Selley, a machinist with the company, said: “We are really glad to be playing a part in giving something back to the NHS and also keeping us working during these strange times.”
The business was threatened with closure in 2015 but, with support from the Community trade union, it transformed into a social enterprise and has since gone from strength to strength.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community said the changes have given the workers the opportunity to show what they are capable of.
He said: “We are proud of what our members at the Devon Disability Collective have achieved.
“Five years ago we came close to losing the business and the vital jobs it provides for people with disabilities.
“To see the company adapting and changing to respond to the UK’s demand for supplies in the coronavirus crisis demonstrates just how much this business has to offer.”

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