Coronavirus update: the latest news from East Midlands companies

A Derby catering equipment specialist has adapted all of its manufacturing operations to produce vital healthcare equipment to support the fight against Covid-19.

Parry, which employs 65 people at its factory on Town End Road in Draycott, has responded to the national call to support key workers by increasing its output of stainless steel mobile wash basins, glove/mask dispensing units and knee operated sinks.

The decision was taken after discussions with its workforce and staff have been working over the Easter period to produce orders for NHS Nightingale in Manchester, care homes, prisons and supermarkets.

All of this production is being carried out in accordance with Government regulations on social distancing and the firm has also introduced a supply of PPE, staggered lunch breaks and more wash stations to ensure its staff remain safe.

Mark Banton, managing director at Parry, said: “As a lean and agile manufacturer, we were able to immediately switch our production from catering products to essential healthcare equipment, including vital wash basins that could be installed quickly in supermarkets, temporary hospitals or transport interchanges.

“One of our key strengths is our ability to customise designs to suit specific applications and our design engineers are currently talking to a number of clients about modifying products to help prevent the possibility of contamination.”

East Midlands Chamber has introduced a £100,000 financial package to help support members affected by Covid-19.

The fund will enable Chamber members which have been impacted by the lockdown restrictions in place because of coronavirus to claim a rebate of up to 100% of their membership fees, for the next three months.

Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “These are extremely challenging times for business, and we need to work together to get through them.

“Businesses need a support network around them now, more than ever, and this is just one more way the Chamber is helping its members.

“It is absolutely vital that businesses stay connected and have a voice. Our members can be confident that their challenges are being fed back to local authorities and Government to help shape their response to this national crisis and provide the help where it’s needed the most.”

Members wanting to apply for a rebate can do so via the Chamber’s website.

Rachael van Oudheusden

Locked-in with… Rachael van Oudheusden from Big Old House

Marketing and PR Consultant, Rachael van Oudheusden from Big Old House, took a break from crisis comms, social media management and copywriting to give us her take on life in lock-down.

Who are you locked in with?
Me, myself and I.

How has the lockdown and working from home been for you so far?
It’s been a bit of a backwards step to be honest in terms of flexible working. I worked remotely from home for several years when I set up Big Old House and realised that I quite like being around people. That’s why I joined the coworking and event space, Works Social, in Nottingham’s Lace Market to get away from my house! Looking forward to getting back with my desk buddies as soon as possible.

Also, circumstances permitting, I try and take April off each year to go on a big adventure, recharge my batteries and refocus for the year ahead. As I was due to be away, I’ve found myself with some unexpected free time on my hands. So, in between keeping up existing client work, I’ve been able to support some freelancers and SMEs with PR advice, as well as registering as an NHS Volunteer, to try and give a bit back where I can.

What has been the best thing about staying in?
Cooking (and eating!). It’s been really great to spend time making interesting food from some of my favourite places around the world. I’ve started making wiser choices to actively avoid waste – making sure to use what’s already in the cupboards, rather than always popping out for extra things. I now completely ignore best before dates if food still seems edible. If it doesn’t have green fuzz on or smells of booze when it shouldn’t, it’s fine, right?!

And what have you missed the most?
Apart from spending April in Colombia, people mainly – family, friends, colleagues and clients. I miss seeing people face to face and miss the productivity of going into a dedicated work environment, as this provides boundaries between work life and home life. The community element is a big part of Works Social too. I’m finding it tough not having the camaraderie of my co-workers to chat with about the crazy times we are all facing and to help spark creative ideas.

I can’t wait to go and give my parents a massive hug, rather than waving to them through the window when I drop off shopping or meds. Video calling is great and we’ve enjoyed a weekly non-pub quiz, but a big squeeze from your nearest and dearest is tough to beat.

What previously essential thing have you realised is not actually essential?
Nothing really. In fact, I’ve realised the opposite. Things that I didn’t think were essential are actually so much more important than I gave them credit for in maintaining positive physical and mental well-being. Social interaction, hugs, travel and freedom of choice are all essential to me. It’s been values, or behaviours, rather than stuff mostly though, such as caring, compassion, kindness and generosity that are truly essential.

What are the changes you’ve made that you plan on continuing when restrictions are lifted?
Eating better, reducing unnecessary waste, exercising (a tiny bit) more, procrastinating less and not thinking that you can always put it off until tomorrow. Plus, a greater appreciation of things you can do rather than those you can’t.

Have you made progress on any of your bucket list items?
Not really, as most of the list includes travel combining food and/or drink experiences. However, I have enjoyed reading more about the places I can’t yet go to and occasionally sampling some entrepreneurial homes deliveries of delicious wine from Brigitte Bordeaux in Sherwood, as well as smoked cheeses from the Feast and The Furious in Melton Mowbray.

What is the first thing you will do when isolation ends?
As a card carrying CAMRA member, I’m going to dust off my Nottingham City Transport bus pass (who’ve been spectacular in keeping essential services running for key workers, thank you) and jump on a bus into town to support as many local independent pubs as I can get round during opening hours. I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to join in me in supporting their local pubs too. Give me a shout if you fancy a pint!

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