A NORTH East hospital recently partnered with HMP Northumberland and Sodexo Justice, to produce much needed medical equipment covers and a boost in morale, thanks to the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

Staff from Nuffield Health Tees Hospital were struggling to find suitable covers for ultrasound units, scanning machines and mobile trolleys, when the North East England Chamber of Commerce offered to help.

The Chamber connected the hospital with Sodexo Justice Services’ senior contracts manager at HMP Northumberland, Keith Borthwick, who knew exactly which team to call on.

HMP Northumberland currently has a textiles workshop, which has been used for various projects including upcycling Virgin Train uniforms into warm items of clothing for the homeless. Other projects have included the production of jackets for dogs in shelters.

The team started working on the covers straight away, ensuring specific requirements were met and found the work a great distraction from Covid-19 lockdown measures and news of the pandemic.

The job was passed to HMP Northumberland as the UK started to emerge from a national lockdown. Morale across the UK was understandably low and with no assignments in the pipeline, those working in the textiles department were feeling deflated.

The work gave the team something to focus on, they were keen to help the hospital, whilst filling a gap in the market, as the required covers aren’t readily available to buy.

Sales and services manager at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, Ross Huntley, said: “We’re really grateful to both the Chamber and HMP Northumberland, the covers are fantastic and exactly what we needed.

“Lockdown has been very challenging mentally for many of us and we’re really pleased that we could help give the team at Northumberland HMP a boost of morale and a project to focus on. The Sodexo Justice programme really helps to rehabilitate and develop skill sets. Being able to focus on and immerge yourself into a project can really help people escape a negative mindset.

“HMP Northumberland is a valued contact and we will definitely look to work with the team again. The equipment covers haven’t gone unnoticed and staff are very impressed at their durability and quality.”

Michelle Ord, senior relationship manager, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re pleased that we could bring Nuffield Health Tees Hospital and HMP Northumberland together. The equipment covers look great and it’s always great to hear how the North East can come together to support one another.

“We work hard to utilise the skill sets, services and resources available through all of our members, supporting North East businesses, charities and services alike.”