UTC South Durham staff are working together to create much needed PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) visors for NHS trusts, district nursing teams, GP surgeries, and care homes throughout the North East region. The school’s initiative, known as Visors for Victory, has already produced 200 visors and is currently sourcing more material to continue production.

200 visors have already been distributed, including to district nurses at University Health Centre, Durham, recently set-up Hot Hubs in Darlington and Middleton-in-Teesdale, two GP surgeries, and two care and domiciliary organisations.

Staff at Nurtured Care NE in Gateshead wearing the visors made by staff at UTC

The UTC team, led by Vice Principal Jamie Smith, are making use of the engineering facilities on site and creating protective visors using a laser cutter. UTC staff have volunteered to help with production, delivery, and purchasing materials.

Speaking about making the visors, Jamie Smith said: ‘After hearing about the unavailability of PPE for our health workers and seeing the efforts of other UTCs across the country, we decided to support healthcare providers by making visors. The NHS and other healthcare providers are helping so many people during this incredibly difficult time, and we wanted to give something back to try and keep our healthcare heroes safe.’

‘The crisis has also shown how much we need people with STEM skills, particularly healthcare workers, engineers and technologists – those UTC is designed to support. It’s been a privilege to use my engineering and design skills to develop these visors, and to make and distribute them with the committed team at UTC.’

Over the coming weeks, small teams will be working to produce the visors whilst following social distancing guidelines. UTC South Durham has also donated masks, gloves and goggles to the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. UTC students are also getting involved in the initiative, with Sixth Form student Connor Lowrie donating 20 visors he had made using his 3D printer at home.

Connor Lowrie with one of the visors he made on a 3D printer.

UTC are fundraising via Just Giving to help with the costs of materials for the visors. Teacher Andy Blackett has also organised a National Three Peaks Stair Climbing Challenge, which challenges individuals or teams of up to six people to climb the combined height of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike in their own homes on Monday 13th April. More information can be found on UTC’s website: utcsouthdurham.org/visors-for-victory/how-you-can-help.

Based in Newton Aycliffe, UTC South Durham is a STEM focused school for 14-19 year olds, specialising in engineering and advanced manufacturing. UTC is one of 20 schools within the UTC (University Technical Colleges) network which are supporting the NHS by making masks and other protective equipment using 3D printers.