One of the UK’s longest running blinds companies has reopened its factory to provide urgent support to the Leicester General Hospital after closing down production for the first time in their 133 year history.
Leicester’s Barlow Blinds have provided hygiene roller blinds for converted offices which will serve as an overflow ward to treat COVID-19 patients. The blinds are considered vital for the new ward as they contain antimicrobial coating used to prevent infections such as MRSA, it is therefore hoped they will also help in the fight against Coronavirus.
Barlow’s Managing Director Phil Coleman, said his company were honoured to be asked to fit for the hospital with all employees wanting to ‘do their bit’. He added: “We feel really proud to have got the phone call from the hospital, up until this moment in time many of us have taken the NHS for granted, I know I have. Being able to help out, even in a small way, is wonderful.
“The hospital staff asked about the purchase order for the blinds, but it’s the furthest thing from our minds at the moment, they’ve got more than enough on their plate to worry about.
“We’re not sure how many more blinds we’ll be fitting for the NHS, hopefully the spread of Coronavirus will be contained, but it’s very possible that we will need to supply more, everyone at Barlow is ready to do whatever it takes to be of assistance.”
Barlow Blinds have a long history in providing window coverings in times of national crisis, during the Second World War their factory on Stanley Street was kept busy manufacturing blackout blinds for customers from around the UK.
Mr Coleman continued: “My gran and grandad who ran the business back then, kept the factory open right the way through the Second World War making blackout curtains for homes and blinds for government and council buildings. They were classed as the equivalent of key workers, I guess.”
The COVID-19 lockdown has meant the firm’s 14 employees have been unable to work due to social distancing rules which could be compromised during manufacturing or when in customer homes. The company have informed customers they are unsure when they will be able to resume full-scale production from their existing factory on Brighton Road, in north Leicester.
Despite the lockdown, Mr Coleman revealed his company have received a daily increase of 40 per cent in traffic to their website, as people carry out more home improvement projects during time off work.
Meanwhile, the ‘overwhelming majority’ of the UK’s 1,900 blinds and shutter companies, like Barlow Blinds, volunteered to stop trading once the government announced rules on social distancing, according to the British Blinds and Shutter Association.
Andrew Chalk from the BBSA said: “We are pleased to see that the window blind and shutter industry, from manufacturing to retailing and installation, has largely and voluntarily heeded the government advice to stay at home in these extraordinary times.
“Work still continues on essential construction projects and many in the industry have answered the urgent call to supply blinds, screens and hospital cubicle tracks to help the NHS cope with the demand for extra space.
“Some factories in the industry are making urgent supplies for the NHS and many have joined the call for volunteers to support the national effort.”