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There With You: How students and tutors at New City colleges rally to help NHS during Covid-19 emergency

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 05 May 2020

Elliot Dervish and gadget he designed to help his mum and other NHS staff stay safe on duty. Picture: New City

Elliot Dervish and gadget he designed to help his mum and other NHS staff stay safe on duty. Picture: New City

New City

Former engineering apprentice Elliot Dervish went back to his old college to design a gadget to keep his mum safe while she’s on duty in an NHS hospital during the coronavirus emergency.

A 3D laser printer in the college technology workshop is used to produce visors for east London hospitals and care homes. Picture: New CityA 3D laser printer in the college technology workshop is used to produce visors for east London hospitals and care homes. Picture: New City

He is one of hundreds of New City College students and staff at campuses across east London from Poplar to Hornchurch who have rallied to help frontline workers facing a shortage of personal safety equipment to get through the crisis.

“I was concerned about my mother working in hospital every day,” Elliot said. “I designed and made a little tool that would enable her to press lift buttons and pull open doors without having to risk contamination.”

He enlisted help from his old tutor Sunny Bamra at the Havering Sixth Form campus in Hornchurch and other college staff who have been producing thousands of gadgets which have been distributed to hospitals and care homes.

Product design and engineering tutors have been making PPE face visor masks for the NHS. A laser printer in the technology workshop is being used by Guy Reid, Paul Douglas and Kyle Balcome to cut and then hand-assemble 300 visors which are being delivered to hospitals and care homes.

Volunteers using Poplar campus to distribute supplies to East End foodbanks. Picture: New CityVolunteers using Poplar campus to distribute supplies to East End foodbanks. Picture: New City

Students and staff from 10 campuses are making PPE equipment and volunteering in hospitals as well as distributing supplies to foodbanks.

The main campus in Poplar is being turned into a store and distribution centre for urgently-needed stocks being sent to three community foodbanks in the East End, supported by Stepney’s Mulberry Girls’ secondary school staff.

Hundreds of safety goggles have been donated by the college to Newham Hospital by the science, health and social care and construction departments, as well as head caps, gloves, shoulder covers and aprons being given to St John Ambulance.

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The campuses have also set up a fund to help students and their families in need to get through the lockdown.

Boxes of disposable gloves and safety goggles have been given to community first responders while other items have gone to King George’s Hospital in Goodmayes and to Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

Many healthcare apprentices and students are working on the NHS frontline, supporting nurses by providing key services. They include Joe Woodger and Gina Crudgington at Queen’s Hospital.

Gina volunteered for unpaid work saying she wanted to play her part – but hospital managers were so impressed that they offered her paid extra hours.

Students Blossom Ibeawuchi and Katrina Moore are working as healthcare assistants at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Woolwich.

Blossom, who has been assigned to the hospital’s respiratory ward, said: “It’s not easy at all. I’m doing 12-and-a-half hour shifts and the grim reality on the ground is overwhelming.”

New City college staff are also helping to sew surgical scrubs at home for doctors, nurses and key workers.

Student coach Jane Buckle and curriculum arts manager Brian Martin and his wife are busy at their sewing machines making kits for medical teams. Pauline Morse is knitting pairs of hearts for intensive care patients, one for the patient, the other for their family.

New City College runs 10 campuses in east London and south Essex, including Poplar, Stepney, Shoreditch, Redbridge, Hornchurch and Epping, all with online and other remote learning for a combined 20,000 students. But each campus retains its local identity, embedded in the community it serves.


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