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Hackney flatpack home designers set laser cutters to work making NHS visors

PUBLISHED: 10:24 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:19 11 May 2020

Nick Newman of U-Build. Picture:  J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroad

Nick Newman of U-Build. Picture: J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroad

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A Hackney company has created thousands of protective visors for NHS workers battling coronavirus on the frontline.

Benjah Pozi-Quansah volunteer for Helpful Engineering UK with a background in television and improv comedy, modelling the U-Build visors. Picture:  J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroadBenjah Pozi-Quansah volunteer for Helpful Engineering UK with a background in television and improv comedy, modelling the U-Build visors. Picture: J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroad

U-Build, a branch of the architecture firm Studio Bark, has been using its know-how to make visors as part of the Helpful Engineering UK volunteer group, which was set up to tackle shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the NHS.

The company, which designs flat-pack homes, has used laser cutters in cooperative workshop Building Bloqs to get involved.

About 10,000 visors have been created at Building Bloqs by both U-Build and other companies.

“All we really wanted to do was help in some way,” said Nick Newman, director of U-Build. “We heard about Helpful Engineering making visors and thought it would be really good.”

Nick Newman and Benjah Pozi-Quansah volunteer for Helpful Engineering UK with a background in television and improv comedy. Picture:  J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroadNick Newman and Benjah Pozi-Quansah volunteer for Helpful Engineering UK with a background in television and improv comedy. Picture: J�rn Tomter/@jorntomter/@ilovechatsworthroad

Laser machines were chosen over 3D printers because they are quicker, and on some days the technology has been working 7am to midnight to create 400 visors.

Nick added: “You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. It’s easy to get caught in the pleasure trap, the money-making system - whatever you call it - but it’s just trying to reflect on what is important.

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“What has happened [in lockdown] is people looked around them and saw people are dying and wanted to help. It is as simple as that.”

All the firms in Helpful Engineering combined have produced 18,000 visors in the project’s first five weeks, and those have been distributed to frontline workers in 24 London hospitals, 41 care homes, 63 Covid-19 clinics and GP surgeries.

Frontline workers who have benefitted from the scheme include homeless charity Sutton Night Watch and residential care home for Jewish people, Nightingale Hammerson.

There are now more than 200 volunteers helping out with scheme, including the Met Police, who have been distributing the PPE.

Helpful Engineering was founded at the end of March by Katie Meech, Glyn Goodwin, Poppy Becke and Fergal McEntee.

Katie said: “We all feel indebted to London’s frontline workers so wanted to find a practical way we could help them.”

Fergal added: “We are all in this together and by working together we can help protect our frontline workers and the most vulnerable citizens.”

U-Build featured on Grand Designs last year and began operating as a not-for-profit organisation in January this year.


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