Working for the Community: Marion Darling

Since lockdown began countless people have stepped up to offer their time and resources to help others get through a stressful, difficult period in their lives. Care Lecturer Marion Darling has been working hard to help others in supporting front-line workers. Here she tells us what she’s been doing to make sure the right equipment gets to the right people.

By Marion Darling

I was aware that two friends who have local companies had, in light of the virus, started creating protective visors for frontline staff.  I am a health and social care lecturer and I was struggling with the impact that the lack of PPE was having on frontline staff, especially when I teach carers and future nurses. Because of this I approached Alex Porteous from Taskforce and Neil Rapson from Designworks to see if I could help in any way and suggest that we all work together. Being fortunate enough to work in partnership with lots of key frontline organisations I hoped that I would be able to help reach out to the right people to ensure that we could get as many visors out, especially to care homes where there are huge gaps in the provision of PPE.  

Front line workers receive a delivery

Alex Porteous has created an amazing one piece wraparound visor and if he can access more plastic he can produce up to 10,000 visors a day. However, plastic supplies are proving difficult to get currently. Alex has managed to produce the bulk of what’s been delivered this far and the simple design has been praised by all staff receiving them. Alex’s wife Dawn has also been a fundamental element of this in that she has been racing around delivering visors across the Lothian’s and Glasgow to multitudes of frontline workers. I have likened her to a mini tornado in that she has visited so many towns, but instead of leaving carnage and destruction she has left kindness and compassion for our frontline staff and for those that depend on their care. 

The other company is Designworks where Neil Rapson and his son Cameron have been making the other visors which are laser cut and take a bit longer to produce. Neil and Cameron have been working day and night to produce these visors and have been sending them far and wide. Hospitals have been over the moon with these as you can also wear goggles underneath these. They have also produced a small tool to help prevent ear sores for frontline staff, as a consequence of wearing face masks for long periods throughout the day. Anyone that’s received one of the visors has been thrilled and so grateful, commenting that they’ve had ‘nothing thus far’. Many of the residents in care homes had reported to their families that they were worried for staff as they didn’t seem to have the safety equipment. We’ve had lots of requests from worried families and have tried to meet all of the needs for visors leading on from these. The feedback that’s pouring in has been heartfelt and beautiful and a very unexpected consequence of the actions taken to supply these visors. 

The straps for the visors mid-print

One of the most fabulous parts of this initiative is that all costs to date have been met solely by both Alex and Neil despite the worrying times we find ourselves in. This has highlighted that altruism is alive and well. We had looked at crowdfunding but both of the guys were concerned that people who could least afford to contribute often wanted to contribute to such causes and they didn’t want that.  We are currently trying to source more plastic quickly as delays in sourcing and delivering plastic is holding production up. We have a number of people requesting visors and we hope that we can meet everyone’s request. In the meantime Neil and Cameron are working daily to get more visors out and Alex has been using any plastic he’s sourced from friends and other companies whilst also using spare off-cuts to keep supplies going. Alex has an order arriving soon and has stated that he can make 18,000 visors from this order of plastic. Currently around 2400 free visors have been distributed to frontline services. 

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