How Suffolk businesses and individuals have been helping protect frontline health workers

Helen White, manager of Gibbins, is helping produce masks during the coronavirus outbreak Picture: H

Helen White, manager of Gibbins, is helping produce masks during the coronavirus outbreak Picture: HELEN WHITE - Credit: Archant

Suffolk businesses, organisations and individuals have been rallying together to support vital NHS frontline staff in the fight against coronavirus.

Gibbins, which is based in Martlesham Heath, is using its materials in stock to manufacture hundreds of masks, which are being delivered to hospitals, care homes and surgeries throughout the county.

Helen White, manager of Gibbins, said she is donating the equipment free of charge for NHS staff, who are at a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19, with 600 having already been donated.

She said: “When I saw that there was a struggle to produce masks, we decided to use our materials on the shelf.

“We have been told that anything is better than nothing.

“We will continue making them until we run out of materials in the store.

“We’re doing what we can. Everyone is really pulling together in this crisis.”

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In Woodbridge, Suffolk Sails head sailmaker Matt Read began producing face shields to donate to health workers using his 3D printer at home.

However, his boss Simon Scammell soon caught wind of the project and offered his assistance.

The project was initially self-funded by Mr Read, but donations have been flooding in - including a GoFundMe page which has raised more than £3,000.

Mr Read has also been assisted in his aim to help protect NHS staff with a grant from the Felixstowe Relief Charity.

He said: “I decided to print 150 masks to donate, but it got a bit mad.

“It’s got too big for me to handle. We now have printers running all across the country.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk business chiefs are urging firms in the county to apply for government grants that are a “lifeline” during the coronavirus crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed eligible businesses will be entitled to either £10,000 or £25,000 through the newly-introduced Small Business Grant Fund.

In addition, there is a cash grant available to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that have a property with a rateable value up to £51,000.

The scheme is open to firms who pay little or no business rates, and currently receive small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

Local authorities have already began contacting eligible businesses, but those that believe they also qualify are urged to get in touch.

Karen Chapman, from the Suffolk Growth Board, said: “The Small Business Grant Fund and cash grant for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses could provide an important lifeline during these unprecedented times.

“We urge all eligible businesses to take advantage of the financial support, advice and guidance that is available during this difficult period.”