Amid all the fear and confusion during the coronavirus outbreak, there has been positive support from teams to help ensure NHS staff, essential keyworkers and the vulnerable are provided with PPE in order to save lives.
Dominic Lipscombe, Director of Help Finder and his team have been working around the clock shipping and delivering necessary PPE not only across the city of Liverpool but also further afield.
We caught up with Dominic to discuss how successful the project has been so far and what the future holds.
The UK is still in high demand for PPE, where and who have Help Finder delivered to so far?
We’ve delivered pretty much all over the country at this point, it’s a mixture of donations and bulk buyers.
It ranges from various NHS hospitals across the Northwest, including GP’s, numerous care homes and high-risk individuals, to places such as St Joseph Hospice, The Whitechapel Centre.
We are also procuring on behalf of a number of large NHS PPE Fundraisers.
What are the expected delivery timescales?
Mostly same day! For Liverpool we’ve been hand-delivering and for wider buyers we’ve been using a number of delivery companies. For the weight people are buying in bulk same day actually works out cheaper than the big firms doing next day.
The project so far has been a huge success, what would you say is the biggest achievement so far?
We have negotiated deals on behalf of other people of up to £1m and it’s looking likely we’ll soon be passing that!
Also numerous PPE Fundraisers have been coming to us for help, both with large purchases and for us to help assist in spotting real and fake PPE.
We’re also currently working on a huge order on behalf of a large UK chain for a piece of PPE so that they are able to provide their staff with adequate protection.
As well as the success, has there also been many challenges along the way?
Freight in some cases has been a nightmare. Some governments are taking over entire factories and diverting any paid-for orders to them. But because of our supply chain, we are able to have a plan B/C/D/E/F-Z in place to mitigate these problems.
It has been extremely fun actually knowing to expect these now.
How do you know fake suppliers from real?
To be honest, at the minute it’s a mine field. Some legitimate suppliers come across as fake, but we do a heavy amount of due diligence on each person we work with. Where possible we use Escrow to pay, or POD / LC. We take no unnecessary risks and we probably have knocked a few genuine suppliers back but it’s all part of it isn’t it really. Given that we’re paying foreign companies, if they’re fake, we can’t exactly go and chase them if they’re 5000 miles away.
We had one who was pretending to be a legitimate company – using a domain extremely similar and using their VAT number. On closer inspection though it was fake. We’re actually working with the certification company + government agencies they claim to be approved by at the minute to bring them down.
We appreciate we aren’t the only source of PPE, and not everyone will buy it from us, and that is why we are going to the lengths of helping to bring down these fake suppliers.
What comes next in the land of PPE?
We are opening an online store www.hfshop.co.uk for people who require PPE – e.g. individuals, small shops, salons (quite a demand). These will be full medical-grade equipment at wholesale prices to ensure people don’t get ripped off.
One thing we’ve been asked for is the ‘civil’/basically paper Surgical Masks which are useless really. We have point blank refused to procure them (although we can, easily) and we do the Class I’s at nearly the same price as you’d find Civil Surgical Masks.
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