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Frontline housing workers, homelessness support services and the people they look after, many of whom are vulnerable, are the latest groups to be using hand sanitiser made at Swansea University.

Lewis Roberts, an electrician with Valleys to Coast, (left) said: "The hand sanitiser has been vital for us and helped to reassure colleagues and customers when carrying out the emergency repair work in our customers’ homes.”

Frontline housing workers, homelessness support services and the people they look after, many of whom are vulnerable, are the latest groups to be using hand sanitiser made at Swansea University, where a solar tech lab has temporarily switched to producing 5000 litres a week during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The aim is to protect housing staff and keep the people they work with safe.

The sanitiser, which meets the standard set by the World Health Organization, is already in use in the local NHS. Now, working with Community Housing Cymru, Cymorth Cymru and Care & Repair Cymru, the University team are supplying 2,000 five-litre bottles to 35 housing organisations across Wales.

The hand sanitiser is being used in places such as care homes, extra care accommodation, homeless hostels and in the homes of vulnerable residents.

Carers and housing support workers, as well as maintenance teams who carry out essential and emergency jobs in tenants' homes, are using the sanitiser to keep staff and service users safe.

The University team producing the sanitiser is made up of over 30 volunteers from three different Colleges and Schools. Manufacturing is being led by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, who specialise in solar research and in developing buildings that generate, store and release their own solar energy.

Joni Castle-Canavan, Deputy Manager at Hafod’s St Isan Care Home in Cardiff, said:

“Having a stock of hand sanitiser within our care service has given us a little bit of an extra layer of protection to our staff and residents.

“We’re so grateful to have a steady supply available so everyone at our home can sanitise their hands at a hand washing station but also at more regular times too. For example, we have hand sanitiser at every desk for staff to use before and after using shared work spaces, and for residents to use before and after all meals and activities.

“It means so much to everyone to have access to sanitiser alongside their excellent hygiene practices and has helped to ease anxieties at this time.”

Lewis Roberts, an electrician with Valleys to Coast, said:

“We are lucky to have a large amount of hand sanitiser at Valleys to Coast and proud to be supporting others by supplying them with some through our hub.

It has been vital for us and helped to reassure colleagues and customers when carrying out the emergency repair work in our customers’ homes.”

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru, Katie Dalton, Director at Cymorth Cymru and Chris Jones, Chief Executive at Care & Repair Cymru, said:

“The challenges faced by those who provide care and support in housing and homelessness services amid the Covid-19 crisis have been acute. Despite the shortages of staff and adequate PPE, these services are working incredibly hard to provide high quality, safe care and support in difficult circumstances.

We have successfully worked in partnership with Swansea University to supply hand sanitisers to Welsh housing associations, as well as Cymorth Cymru members and Care & Repair Agencies. Over the coming weeks, we are expecting to order and distribute almost 2,000 five litre bottles to 35 organisations across Wales. This is crucial to ensuring staff and the people we support are kept safe, while we continue to work in homes and communities to support those most in need.”

Dr Iain Robertson from the College of Science at Swansea University said: 

“We have been able to adapt quickly to support frontline staff and vulnerable people. Swansea University with the support of several local companies can now produce 5000 litres a week of WHO-recommended hand sanitiser.

We are delighted to see that it is helping to keep housing staff and the people they care for safe.”

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