An East London further education college, with campuses in Tower Hamlets and Hackney, has donated all its personal protection equipment to local GPs and hospitals including The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel and St Guys and Thomas hospital.
Alison Arnaud, principal of the Tower Hamlets and Hackney campus of New City College said the college’s stock of PPE had become redundant when the lockdown began last March.
She was speaking at a meeting of the Tower Hamlets Faith Forum, an organisation which improves communication between different faiths in the community. The online event addressed the effects COVID-19 has had on the borough particularly addressing education.
She said: “We gave away our PPE to the local hospitals. A lot of it went to NHS Nightingale, The Royal London Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas and some actually went to our local GPs, who were just a bit short on gloves and masks at that time.”
The PPE stock came from the college’s education departments including science, health & social care and construction. College staff also made personal deliveries to their local hospitals.
This included safety goggles to Newham Hospital and other equipment to St John’s Ambulance for distribution to the NHS. Boxes of disposable gloves were also donated to Community First Responders, volunteers providing support for the London Ambulance Service.
Daniel Range, Assistant professor at the Centre for Trust and Social Relations at Coventry University, has worked close with Faith Action who support faith-based organisations by conducting research and being the voice for smaller organisations. Range complimented the college: “To see all the amount …you’ve done over the last few months and how quickly you have adapted to it when you’re not trained to do so, but you’ve been left to run with…has really impressed me.”
New City College is the largest FE college in east London with 20,000 students. It offers A-level qualifications and a range of different courses to students ages 16-19 and above.
More recently the college has set up a HOPE fund worth £200,000, originally given to the college as a bursary to spend on something they deemed important such as investing in new equipment for the college. The College decided the fund would be more effective if it was given to vulnerable students who were struggling during COVID-19 and could not access help in any other way.
Arnaud said: “There are people looking at me a bit askance and wondering why I would spend it all, but once you start it’s very difficult to say no to people, so our HOPE fund is a really positive thing.”
Reverend Alan Green, Chair of Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum and host of the event, praised Arnaud and New City college for their efforts during the pandemic: “You face that reality square on and then find ways to deal with it and I thank that balance is so incredible.”