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York St John Alumni

Updates and stories from the Alumni team at York St John University

Face Shields for the NHS

YSJ Fine Art alumnus Mark Binks is using his skills to provide frontline workers in the NHS with face shields. 

Mark initially founded #Shields4Manchester as a solo effort from his garage, but it has since grown larger than he could have anticipated.

Facing the Crisis

Mark knew he had the skills to help combat the shortage of PPE for frontline workers in his local area. He initially researched 3D printed face shields, but suspected he could produce something that was cheaper, better and faster to make. 

By adopting an “ingenious” laser-cut open source design from a Nottingham based collective, he eventually produced his proof-of-concept prototypes. After that, he was ready to contact local GPs and nurses.

“They were moved to tears at the idea of what I could provide out of my home workshop, so I knew I had to do more. I phoned a local plastics firm who were confident they could do it even better with their die-cutting machine!”

A Growing Collective

Mark has since helped to cultivate a grassroots collective of hobbyists and industry specialists that generates PPE in huge volumes. 100% of the funds he raises will be used to make this equipment available for frontline workers.

Mark’s efforts grew quickly. At first, he produced 300 masks day by himself in his garage. Now, the #Shields4Manchester initiative and its wider network is capable of generating over 10,000 face shields per day – at a material cost of 57p per shield!

“With NHS approval for reuse being processed at Stepping Hill, this network has grown through people’s kindness. It is willing to do the right thing when it is needed.”

Mark says #Shields4Manchester is now facing demand from beyond the original scope of the local area.

“We’ve had requests for thousands of masks from all over Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside. It’s time to go bigger. With shields now in use across GP surgeries, hospices and hospitals, the network has spread across the north west.”

A designer at a bench in a workshop with tools to create face shields
Picking and packing shields to reach frontline workers.

Rave Reviews

Mark’s efforts have received glowing reviews from GP surgeries, with Alvanley Family Practice announcing, “He has changed the way we practice, improved the health and safety of our clinicians and patients and made one Practice Manager sleep more easily tonight.”

Word spread fast after #Shields4Manchester’s first week of production and orders for thousands of face shields are now being placed and fulfilled.

Working from early in the morning to late at night, Mark has developed a network that is now capable of providing vital PPE to key workers. But, as Mark says,

“This network of hobbyists and factories will only be happy when there’s a shield for every frontline hero!”

The alumni team would like to thank Mark and everyone who is doing their part in these challenging times, even if that’s just staying home. If you have a story to share with us and the alumni community, get in touch!

The Current Collective

– Mark R Binks (founder and lead of the Manchester Hub)
– Tracy Telford (lead of #Shields4Cheshire&Merseyside) 
– (lead of #Shields4Corby&Kettering)
– Spectrum Plastics (die cutting factory)
– Floreeda Fabrication (laser cutter specialist)
– Dave D Events Limited (local laser cutting company)
– A Beautiful Sign (local laser cutting company)

And “many other volunteers, engineers, loved ones, and wonderful people displaying outstanding community spirit from across the nation.”

#Shields4Manchester logo

The Design

If you’re interested in learning more about the design of face shields, check out the video below from a Smoke and Mirrors designer:

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