Digital community comes together for NHS

Digital community comes together for NHS

Barnsley College, Barnsley Digital Media Centre (DMC), the Library @ The Lightbox and local businesses have all linked up to support Barnsley Hospital and the NHS.

Barnsley College Digital Industries Programme Manager Jessica Lee-Henderson, DMC Manager Tracey Johnson and DMC Makerspace Coordinator Paul Bennett have created a network to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which will be worn by hospital staff to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when they are treating patients.

Jessica and Bradley Sharp, our Creative Technician, used the cutting and printing equipment in our Art and Design studios to produce an initial batch of 3D visors for the hospital. With assistance from Jonathan Frost of Sheffield-based SH Lasers, the pair are continuing to produce a total of 2500 visors which will also be offered to GP surgeries and nursing homes.

Local businesses such as Outfield Digital are already producing and supplying visors and Barnsley Council offered use of their communication system to help coordinate wider production and distribution, as well as using Library 3D printing resources to produce equipment.

The network is also working to identify further ways for the Barnsley digital community to support NHS Trusts and key workers, and linking closely with regional initiatives.

Darren Howlett, Deputy Associate Director of Operations at Barnsley Hospital, said: “From the second we put the call out to Jessica, the College responded immediately and less than a week later we have equipment being used on site by our clinical teams providing safe equipment and support to us all in this very challenging time.

“This is a real credit to the togetherness of Barnsley. From me reaching out in a speculative manner we now have a network of local businesses, the College and individuals coming together to support local NHS Trusts. It is making a real difference to us at Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust and for that we are truly grateful.”

Jessica added: “When we were asked if we could help make PPE for the hospital, Bradley started up one of our 3D printers while I started to chat with Tracey about wider community involvement.

“We feel very humbled to be able to help in a small way. These visors will be so helpful to the hospital, GP surgeries and nursing homes. The doctors, nurses and wider team are doing such an amazing job and to be able to support them is an incredible feeling.”

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture at Barnsley Council, continued: “The DMC and the new Digital Campus, of which Barnsley College is a key part, are all about encouraging collaboration to develop new and innovative ideas, businesses and technology. This partnership works across the College, the Council and Lucy and Matt Brailsford of local company Outfield Digital to support the NHS at the most challenging of times demonstrates how closely knit this community is, and how quickly it can respond.”

Matt Brailsford of Outfield Digital concluded: ‘We primarily develop websites and eCommerce software, however I am also a keen maker and have my own laser cutter. Once we found a visor design that worked with my cutter, we sourced materials and delivered a prototype to give to the hospital for approval. As soon as approval was granted, we got to work making visors and have already delivered 150 visors to the hospital, with a further 450 to come.

“We’re now also liaising with Tracey and other organisations in Barnsley and the wider region to assist with information and advice, bring in additional volunteers with the right equipment and make more of these vital PPE visors.”

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