The Healthcare Workers' Foundation ("HWF") was formed at the very beginning of the COVID pandemic, in response to the sudden crisis healthcare workers found themselves in. HWF worked tirelessly to support frontline staff from the very beginning, as one of one of the first organisations to recognise the desperate need for more personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and immediately try to do something about it.
There was an international shortage of protective equipment, and what little was available was designed to be single use and disposable, which was both practically and environmentally inappropriate. The HWF did all it could to secure more PPE, working with builders and contractors to source stocks of PPE from building sites and factories, looking at new ways of decontaminating and re-using existing equipment, and even designing and manufacturing brand new designs at lightning pace to help tackle the crisis.
In early 2020, HWF fundraised over £1m, and used some of the funds to procure 65 3D- printers, leading the project hand-in-hand with a consortium of 3D printing specialists and designers to set up the country’s first ‘3D printing hubs’, creating a bespoke re-useable and environmentally friendly eye visor, printing 1,700 a day at peak capacity. We later used the same hub to print PPE directly from recycled ocean plastics, donated from Parley for the Oceans, protecting our environment and protecting healthcare workers, together.
In addition, we funded community sewing operations, to create tens of thousands of pairs of vital scrubs, to protect healthcare workers from transferring infection to others via their uniform. We also funded the country’s first BSI-approved permanent filtering face mask, a modified snorkel design, that could protect a single healthcare worker from infection forever - simultaneously vastly improving safety and also solving the mask supply crisis issue instantly.
Now that the PPE crisis has passed, we want to donate some of our 3D printers to be put to good use in new and innovative ways, to inspire and empower the next generation to tackle the next big crisis, as the HWF did, and all the while continuing to support healthcare workers who continue to suffer throughout the pandemic and beyond.
We want to encourage schools and their students to get creative and hands-on with technology and to think about how they too can make a difference. We are now offering schools in England, Wales and Scotland the opportunity to win a 3D printer, which will help to inspire students to solve the world’s next big problems.
The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation partnered with global environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans, in order to create a unique life cycle for marine plastic waste which is polluting the shorelines of the Dominican Republic.
Marine plastic from the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea shorelines surrounding the island was collected and made into plastic pellets – Parley Ocean Plastic®. The pellets were then converted into plastic sheets before being cut into shape and paired with a 3D-printed headband at Makerversity in London to produce 50,000 visors, 50% of which were then donated back to the Dominican Republic to protect healthcare workers there as well.
HWF provided funding to support the first phase of an exciting project from Oxford Inspired: the Snorkel Mask Project.
A group of surgeons adapted a commercially-available full-face snorkel mask to produce sustainable, reusable respirators, that a single doctor or nurse can use for a month before needing to change the 75 pence filter. Thanks to the HWF, this is now the country’s first BSI-approved device of its kind.
In early 2020. HWF set up SHIELD, to allow collaboration between medics, industry leaders and experts to create innovative solutions to tackle the crisis of demand for PPE. SHIELD developed new designs of sustainable masks and visors as well as other critical PPE that could be produced on a mass scale. SHIELD launched the country’s first 3D printing hub to generate 1,700 sustainable visors a day, producing and sourcing over 100,000 visors in total.
Super Snaps partnered with HWF to produce personalised, wearable, polaroid photos for the outside of NHS workers' scrubs, so that colleagues and patients can still see each other's faces even when wearing full PPE.
This allowed staff to communicate much more and made the whole experience much less frightening for patients who could see who was caring for them, enabling better connections to be made and providing reassurance.
HWF partnered with Sew Sussex's 1,600 skilled seamstresses and funded £70,000 of material, allowing 2,000 essential protective scrubs to be made per week for NHS workers. The materials for the scrubs were purchased by HWF before being cut by Rolls Royce, made by Sew Sussex and then delivered by SHIELD.
Fantastic teamwork delivered much-needed PPE to enable us to keep more healthcare workers safe across the UK.
Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise! The top 5 fundraising schools in each region by the end of the competition will be awarded a 3D printer and a starter supply of plastic, as well as a visit from the HWF charity team to deliver a talk to the students about our work to inspire them to get going!
Registered schools that each fundraise a minimum of £200 can also enter their students into the Big Ideas Design Competition (see below for details). The single winning entrant in each age group in each region will win a 3D printer and a starter supply of plastic for their school.
To be eligible to enter the Big Ideas Design Competition:
Draw or paint a picture of your invention on the competition form, (available to download below) along with as much or as little information about it as you want.
The competition is judged on practicality, imagination and presentation, taking into account your age.
Entries to the competition will be judged on the following criteria:
The competition is split into the following year group categories. Each year group in each region can win a 3D printer for their school.
The competition will be open to the following regions;