A Darlington support group has bought in hundreds of face masks to help protect local residents from Covid-19 by reducing local transmission of the disease.
With support from the Parish Council, the Sadberge Coronavirus Support Network has imported 800 washable face masks from an overseas supplier and is offering them to every home in the parish.
Each household is being offered two free face masks, with more available for a small charge for any homes that need them.
Within the first 24 hours of the scheme being launched, around half of the available masks had been requested by village residents. The distribution process is ongoing, with the volunteers who are delivering the masks adhering to strict social distancing practices while they’re doing so.
The project has been funded through a £900 grant from the Community Fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Moor House wind farm.
It’s the second grant that Sadberge Parish Council has secured from the fund in recent weeks, with a £1,000 grant enabling it to buy two tablet computers that are being used to enable vulnerable and elderly local residents to use video meeting technology to keep in touch with friends and family.
The Sadberge Coronavirus Support Network is providing a range of different types of assistance for any local people who need support, including collecting shopping and prescriptions, dog walking and running a food support voucher scheme in association with a local trader.
Alastair Mackenzie, a member of the Network’s steering committee, adds: “There’s a growing body of evidence that, although a face mask doesn’t offer any significant level of protection to the wearer, the transmission of Covid-19 through the population is reduced if enough people wear them, particularly when they’re in enclosed spaces where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing, such as on public transport and in shops.
“These are not medical grade masks, which are needed by NHS staff, but are technically ‘reusable cloth face coverings’ which work by catching moisture droplets breathed out by people who are infected by the coronavirus, but who are unaware of that fact because they aren’t showing any symptoms.
“We’ve also been very careful to ensure that we’re not impacting on the domestic personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies available to the NHS by sourcing our masks from an overseas sports clothing manufacturer that’s turned its production facilities towards making face masks and other protective items.
“There’s been a positive response from the village to the offer of free masks and our team of volunteers has already managed to distribute hundreds of them to local families.
“Being able to access grants from the Moor House fund has been central to the local measures we’ve put in place in response to the pandemic and we’re grateful for Banks Renewables’ and the funding committee’s support for our plans.”
Wind farm operator Banks Renewables agreed with the chair of the Moor House Wind Farm community fund, Cllr Brian Jones, and the other members of the fund committee to temporarily relax the eligibility criteria in response to the impact of the pandemic and extend the area within which grants can be made.
Over the last few weeks, seven pandemic response-related projects located across the borough have received funding totalling more than £10,000 from the Moor House fund, which is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, after being identified by local councillors as suitable for support.
Other grant beneficiaries so far include Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington, the food bank at the Kings Church in Darlington, homelessness relief project The 700 Club, food redistribution charity The Bread and Butter Thing and Firthmoor & District Community Association.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Sadberge Parish Council has taken a very proactive approach to managing and mitigating the community impacts of the pandemic and we’re pleased to be working in partnership with them once again in support of the well-being of the village’s residents.”
The Moor House wind farm will generate more than £750,000 of local community funding over its 25-year lifespan and has been operational since the start of 2018.
It generates over 36,470 MW of green electricity every year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 9,350 homes, and by doing so, displaces almost 12,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network per annum.
Further information on the Sadberge face masks initiative, including an extensive Frequently Asked Questions section, is available on the www.sadberge.org.uk website.