#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Ebbw Vale social enterprise producing over 1,000 garments a month for NHS Wales

ELITE Clothing Solutions has been working closely with Welsh Government, plus a range of other manufacturers and PPE suppliers in Wales, during the pandemic to respond to the needs of the NHS.

By Mike Erskine · May 7, 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

ELITE Clothing Solutions has been working closely with Welsh Government, plus a range of other manufacturers and PPE suppliers in Wales, during the pandemic to respond to the needs of the NHS.

The social enterprise is based in Ebbw Vale and is a trading arm of  ELITE Supported Employment Agency (SEA) Ltd. The main charity has been assisting people with disabilities or disadvantage to obtain and maintain paid employment opportunities within their communities since 1994.

 

At present, ELITE Clothing Solutions have a small workforce who are producing approximately 1,000 sets of scrubs, each month, for the NHS in Wales, through work for Alexandra, the main garment supplier to the NHS. Across Wales, collaborating organisations have changed their production lines, enabling approximately 10,000 sets of scrubs to be produced in Wales each month.

As our organisation is Pilot 1 of the Welsh Government’s Better Jobs Closer to Home strategy, we were naturally approached by Welsh Government, with an enquiry of how we could respond to the needs of the NHS in Wales. We were advised of items on the critical list, which we explored, and identified the scrubs as items we could produce quickly and effectively.

Co-ordination of this production work was an initial challenge, due to shortages of thread and elastic, but the tremendous team work and collaborative colleagues brought it all together.

Andrea Wayman, Chief Executive Officer, ELITE SEA

Initially, when lock down commenced, ELITE needed to furlough all of our staff and their unit was temporarily closed. The industry was hit hard with lack of fabric in the UK, stopping ELITE’s production and branding of their usual items. So the initial challenge was how soon they could start the process, to get their staff back to work and raise their momentum.

It was still important that ELITE’s involvement within this process, met with the requirements of appropriate procurement within the NHS. This involved ELITE Clothing Solutions becoming an approved supplier to Alexandra, meeting their quality specifications and working at appropriate production levels. The workforce were determined to meet these requirements and had a real boost knowing that the items they were producing would be supporting staff within the NHS in Wales.

It’s a collaborative approach, co-ordinated by Welsh Government, and not only incorporates a range of manufacturers across South Wales, but also includes partners in North Wales including Brodwaith Cyf, and Workplace-Worksafe. This collaborative approach has now extended and includes a range of micro enterprises, one company that was close to receivership and a range of individuals and volunteers producing the garments within their homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now is the time for Social Enterprises to get involved. There are so many opportunities available, and by participating you’re not only supporting Wales, but demonstrating that the need for products and services within Wales, can be met by the Social Enterprise Sector.

Andrea Wayman, Chief Executive Officer, ELITE SEA

ELITE would like to give a special mention to:

  • The Enterprise Co-ordinator Claire Eddy, has been tremendous throughout the whole of this process, coordinating the needs of this work, keeping the workforce buoyant and remaining calm throughout. She has used her range of skills in this field and her eye for accuracy, to ensure that Welsh Manufacturing, from a Social Enterprise, receives the respect it deserves in terms of our production of quality products. The whole team at the work place have been extremely positive throughout, with a determination to support our colleagues in the NHS.
  • There are three people in Welsh Government who have been instrumental in supporting and extending the supply chain focus within Wales during the pandemic, enabling and ensuring the inclusion of the Social Enterprise and micro enterprise sector. This has enabled the response for PPE, and we would like to extend our thanks to Simon Griffiths, Nick Owen and Nigel Elias of the ESNR Business and Regions team. Their coordination, guidance and input, not only to ourselves, but to a range of organisations across Wales, has been invaluable.

ELITE has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

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