FRONTLINE staff in care homes, a prison, pharmacies, the ambulance service and doctors’ surgeries are to receive protective visors thanks to the efforts of enterprising college staff.

Workshops at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, have been transformed into a production line for the protective equipment as technology staff respond to the growing needs of the community.

Head of technology Phil Ogden and teacher Shonagh Smith spearheaded production, sourcing materials and designs and using laser cutting equipment to produce the vital kit. They were supported in the technology department by David Hagon, Gary Phillips and Gareth Thompson.

An initial cache of hundreds of visors soon exhausted materials but an appeal on social media saw local companies Avery Dennison, CadtoCode and Paccor UK donating supplies, including a 200kg roll of polypropylene, to kickstart production again. Forklift Solutions helped to deliver the materials.

Completed visors, essential to protect frontline workers from covid-19, have been despatched to local GP surgeries, the North East Ambulance Service, HMP Deerbolt, at Barnard Castle, and a host of care homes.

Emmanuel College’s reputation for technology prompted several requests for help by organisations in need of PPE after the college appealed on social media for more materials.

Head of lower school Gareth Steer said: “We are very proud of the efforts of our staff who worked tirelessly throughout the Easter holidays to make the visors to help protect those people working on the frontline.

“This community has really stepped up and local companies have been incredibly generous providing us with the raw materials we need to make the PPE. The atmosphere has been great as the community comes together to help.”

Shonagh added: “Everyone from the department has been in on different days working from their own work station and it has been really nice to do something to help meet the shortage of PPE. Everyone has come together to help each other. It’s been a great community effort and it feels really nice to be part of something like this.”