In a time where each day brings a flood of often disheartening news, and the distance between people seems to be growing ever larger, it is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the uphill fight against the Covid-19 virus. However, as writer and journalist Tara Parker-Pope highlighted, ‘To help yourself, start by helping others’. That is indeed what Christopher Johnson, a Year 11 student and Army Cadet, did when he decided to use his 3D printer to help those serving at the frontline.
Despite their daily noble efforts, healthcare workers in the UK are not being supplied with the necessary provisions. The government has rolled out guidelines stating that health or social care workers should be wearing aprons, face masks, eye protection and gloves due to their proximity with patients, but this has not been implemented on the ground. Due to a severe lack of proper protective personal equipment (PPE), many NHS staff are working without the appropriate gear and even desperately improvising with snorkels and science goggles. Amid concerns of the shortage, data shows that one in three NHS workers who have been tested have returned positive for the virus.
Finding himself with time on his hands because of the lockdown, high school student Christopher Johnson did not sit still and instead began using his 3D printer to create protective face shields for healthcare workers in the NHS. He felt strongly for the cause as his aunt is a frontline senior nurse, and he wanted to help the medical personnel who were putting themselves at risk each day. Christopher knew he could not do this alone, and set up a GoFundMe page reaching out for support to cover costs and increase output. Donations poured in within days, vastly exceeding his initial target of £500 and helping him raise over £3000 to date, which he has put to good use by purchasing materials and another 3D printer.
He has managed to distribute over 600 face shields so far to various health care teams throughout the North of England, including Royal Preston Hospital where his aunt works, Bridgewater Community Healthcare and Greater Manchester Mental Health, to name just a few.
Christopher’s project has since expanded beyond healthcare workers to provide PPE to others at risk, such as a group of home care workers and a meals on wheels team. His generosity is also apparent in his intention to donate the excess money to NHS Charities Together, and the additional 3D printer to a local primary school. Even though he has been working around the clock, Christopher remarked, “I feel like I don’t deserve all the accolades and praise, as I am just trying to do whatever I can to help out in this challenging situation.”
Such acts of kindness are especially heartening in these difficult times, and inspire us to find innovative ways of using whatever we have to help each other.
To get involved in Christopher’s project, visit his GoFundMe page here.