This advice from “Mister” Fred Rogers has long brought comfort to anyone feeling unsettled or afraid during uncertain times. We can always take comfort that no matter how challenging events become, there are always those prepared to meet that challenge and combat feelings of powerlessness by taking action.
When we decided to look around SThree to find our helpers, we didn’t have to look far. Here’s the story of just one member of our incredible team at SThree, Liz Neidhardt.
Liz is an Associate Business Manager for Computer Futures in Manchester, managing the public sector team which supplies interim professionals to the NHS and Housing Associations. This has given her a great insight into the NHS, which she cares deeply about.
“I am really passionate about supporting the NHS and finding out how we can help them. We go in, understand their pain points and strategise how to help them solve their problems.”
Liz’s support for the NHS goes beyond her role at SThree, and came into sharp focus with the progression of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK. And it all started with a Whatsapp group. Liz told us:
“We have a WhatsApp group for our street just for local info, things like recommended plumbers and that sort of thing. One day, my neighbour, a GP, sent a desperate message. Their practice had run out of personal protective equipment (PPE). She asked if anyone in the street had a 3D printer to help make visors, and luckily, two residents had one.”
This kicked off a truly remarkably community effort.
“My neighbours started off a production line in their kitchens, using CE approved blueprints for safety visors. One 3D printer can make four visors a day, so we were making eight per day until a third neighbour bought a 3D printer, so now we’re up to 12.”
But the team didn’t stop there, and what started as a neighbourhood fund-raising whip-round, turned into something even bigger. The team started a GoFundMe page which has now raised a massive £3,088.
The money raised is going towards purchasing the materials required to make the visors, like 3D printer cartridges and plastic and button elastic. Any excess cash is being used to create care packages for NHS workers, with things like hand cream, hand sanitiser, tea and coffee. They also received donations for the care packages, and alcohol companies even contributed extra bottles of hand sanitiser.
And Elizabeth could see just what these efforts meant to those on the frontlines in the NHS.
“We met the needs of our local GP practice first, and they were palpably relieved when they got the PPE. We then went to local hospitals with equipment and have 50 visors awaiting delivery to local care homes. There’s just been a huge sense of relief.”
Elizabeth was keen to stress that helping out is something anyone can do. It doesn’t have to be a huge fundraiser, every effort helps, no matter how small.
“You don’t need an elaborate project, just reach out to the community. Ask what people need. For us, what made the difference, and what I’d recommend, is understanding the skillsets of everyone you’re working with and how you can use it.
“On my street I have several physicists and doctors, GPs giving contacts, engineers making visors. I help with fundraising to help deliver. Understand skill sets and play to your strengths. But the first step is reaching out – find out what is needed.”
If you’d like to be one of the helpers and use your 5 paid volunteering days during the Coronavirus situation, find out how by clicking here.