Pupil power as schools support University of Hull COVID-19 face shield production project

The University aims to produce more than 400 faceguards in a pilot project .

University of Hull COVID-19 face shield project, using 3D printing ttechnology to help address demand for PPE locally.

Sixth-form students are distributing more than 13,000 face shields as part of the University of Hull’s project to provide vital equipment in the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will bring the number of face shields dispatched by the University’s partnership project to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to a total of 21,000. 

An innovative project designed to identify and supply organisations that are reporting difficulties in accessing PPE stock from their normal suppliers has been set up – drawing on the networks and enthusiasm of the University’s partner schools and colleges. 

Fiona Walkley, a marketing lecturer at Hull University Business School who is helping co-ordinate the project, said: “We wanted to reach into communities in the region to get the face shields out into care homes, funeral directors, GP surgeries and any other health/social care organisations that may still need PPE – and we realised this was a way to do it. 

“It helps those who need the face shields – and it also helps those sixth formers to build their skills and give back to their communities at this important time.”

“We have had a great response to the project from the schools: the sixth formers and careers teams have really seen the benefit for everyone.”

Teams of sixth-formers from 14 schools and colleges in the region from Grimsby to Whitby have risen to the challenge – led by a member of staff from the University’s Business School, Engineering or school liaison team. 

The schools and colleges have been conducting virtual meetings, generating a list of those organisations in need of PPE, and arranging delivery.

Working to specific areas and post codes, the students have identified and contacted the care homes, funeral directors, GP surgeries and other health/social care organisations. 

Dr Walkley said: “The response from the schools and colleges has been phenomenal – and I am so impressed with the way the sixth form students have adopted very professional methods of working. It has been a delight to work with them.

“Their careers advisors tell us that the students’ involvement in the project helps develop their employability skills at a time when the work experience they’d normally be involved in is not possible. It is great for them to have the chance to volunteer and work on this kind of live business project.” 

Lydia Black, a sixth form student at Hull Collegiate, said: “It’s great that through this project my fellow team members and I have been able to use our newfound free time to help others despite being stuck at home. 

“I can certainly speak for the whole of my team when I say that this project has not only helped others protect themselves as we enter a new phase of lockdown, but has also helped us. 

“Through contacting different businesses, companies and key workers, it has given us major organisational and communicative skills, as well as the obvious buzz of helping others. 

“It has also encouraged me to become more active when it comes to other volunteer work, so when the next opportunity to help comes around, I will certainly say yes after this experience. 

“I am so grateful to have been given such an amazing platform by Hull University that has allowed me help many people in my local area.”

The project also gives these sixth formers interested in studying business or engineering as a degree an early taste of the kind of learning experience offered at University.

Schools and colleges taking part include: Ron Dearing UTC, Engineering UTC Northern Lincolnshire, Holderness Academy & Sixth Form College, Hull Collegiate School, Beverley Joint 6th, South Hunsley Sixth Form College, Whitby Sixth Form, Cottingham Sixth Form College, St Mary’s College Sixth Form, Hornsea HSLC Sixth Form, Driffield Sixth Form, John Leggott Sixth Form College, Franklin Sixth Form College, Headlands School Sixth Form. 

The University’s engineering team has developed and produced the face shields using digital engineering techniques such as 3D printing.

Collaborating with a local industry partner, Advanced Plastics, the team has increased capacity to over 70,000 per week – certified to the highest EU standards – to buoy up the national supply chain.

The crowdfunding campaign has been co-ordinated by the Development and Alumni Relations Office at the University.

[Phil Winter – University of Hull]

HULL IS THIS WELLBEING category is sponsored by NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group