There’s no denying that 2020 and more recent times have been difficult for many.  Here at Yewdale, we are proud to be part of an industry that can think on its feet to pivot business plans, support its customers through the challenges of a global pandemic and work hard to protect the NHS so they could continue their work safely.

Now that we’re just over a year on from the first national lockdown, we thought it would be good to take some time to reflect and highlight how we have tirelessly worked to step up and support not only our staff and customers but our community and the NHS too.

“I for one never imagined a year like 2020 or a pandemic that has so much to answer for, but I do know that I am incredibly proud to say that like many others, we took the challenge in our stride and worked hard to show our support.

With more than 33 million people in the UK now vaccinated, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re excited to dust off the uncertainties of the past year and move forward with exciting plans which will continue to see us innovating and supporting the needs of our customers”.

Ryan Parsons, Managing Director

Looking back - Innovating to support our NHS

At Yewdale, our main focus has always been providing quality internal shading and privacy solutions for public and corporate environments. Little did we know, many of our customers in the blind industry would temporarily close for the foreseeable future and the NHS would need our support more than ever before.

Rewind to March 2020, a stay-at-home order was announced and the NHS is gearing up for a national emergency. The Government publishes plans for introducing pop up hospitals with the first being the Nightingale hospital at the Excel Centre in London and we are warned that the NHS is struggling to get enough PPE for their staff to deal with the crisis.

At this time, we rapidly saw a huge demand for our cubicle track system YewdaleMovatrack® from customers working with the NHS fitting tracking, not only for the new pop-up hospitals but also where wards were being reconfigured to take in COVID-19 patients. In fact, we saw a 41% increase in YewdaleMovatrack® sales over the same month in 2019. With a social responsibility to do all we could to help, Yewdale’s production and delivery teams pulled out all the stops to ensure that YewdaleMovatrack® was manufactured and delivered swiftly.

Yewdale could see other avenues where we could use our ingenuity and utilise our manufacturing experience and expertise. We also had a very established supply chain network in place which we could use. Listening to NHS and healthcare partners, we quickly took on board their requirements designing and manufacturing a range of products that would help with social distancing and infection control within hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and care homes to name a few. From developing social distancing screens and curtains to sourcing quality PPE (personal protective equipment), we stepped up to the challenges that the pandemic presented and took the opportunity to support demand and pivot the company’s focus.

With hospitals creating more patient bed spaces and infection control measures ramped up, the demand for disposable curtains was high. With many curtains imported into the UK and Coronavirus restrictions causing global shipping delays, they were becoming more difficult to acquire. Yewdale took the strategic decision to start manufacturing our own disposable curtains adding a British made cubicle curtain to the YewdaleHarrier® range.

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The YewdaleHarrier® disposable curtain is an eco-friendly, durable curtain made in our UK factory. Once we launched the production of our own cubicle curtains, we were able to supply healthcare trusts and private healthcare at speed with a quicker delivery time – a service they have really appreciated.

We were truly honoured to supply some of the Nightingale hospitals and other healthcare trusts with PPE, protective screens, cubicle track and cubicle curtains both directly and through customers like Workspace. Workspace got in touch with us during the high demand for protective equipment as their client, Raigmore hospital, needed 126 hospital double flap suspended cubicle screens during the busy December period. Our helpful team were able to fulfil the request and help supply these key hospitals with safe, defined spaces for COVID-19 patients to recover.

Supporting and protecting our staff

Once it was announced that those who could work from home should, the working environment as we knew it changed completely. It was a given that Yewdale would provide office staff with the support and equipment to work safely from their home, but we knew we needed to keep our factory operatives and key office staff safe in their normal working environment too.

We ensured that all staff had access to our new YewdaleProtect+® PPE range which included face masks, wipes, hand sanitiser and we also sent out care packages with treats too!

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Many companies needed to furlough staff but with an uplift in orders and a boom in production, staff at Yewdale who were on furlough weren’t furloughed for long (unless they needed to shield of course). We also recognised the need for even more staff and successfully placed seven new members of staff in the office and employed 35 factory staff – we are always thrilled to be in a position to offer people employment but through a pandemic with soaring unemployment rates, it seemed even more important and a privilege.

Adapting to a more contact-free customer support

In an industry with less focus on digital technology and a customer base that prefers more traditional face to face communications, we thank our customers for adapting incredibly well to temporarily saying farewell to feeling fabrics, exploring shading systems and having a good old face-to-face chat, in exchange for contact-free meetings over Zoom. We couldn’t have continued without you – thank you.

After the first lock-down when the government encouraged people to begin re-socialising, we began to look at how we could help our customers get back to work and work safely within the government guidelines. We sent all of our customers ‘back to work’ PPE care packages and top tips for keeping safe. With the help of health and safety experts, Southalls we also produced a webinar ‘Back to business while protecting staff’ full of safety tips for returning to work. If this might help you, you can watch the webinar on our website.

With restrictions continuing into late 2020 and couriers struggling to maintain an acceptable delivery service due to demand, we increased our own Elite delivery team to cover the North of England, ensuring customers still received a first-class customer experience. 

Thinking ahead again, we knew for 2021 that our customers would be wary of travelling out of their local area and that many had such busy schedules they couldn’t afford the time out of the workplace, so we introduced our mobile show van. Our Covid- safe mobile show van brings our range of products directly to you; our customers, win-win!

“Our teams are very busy, so for them to just spend 10-15 minutes to come across and see Yewdales products has been really useful! Nothing beats handling the products and seeing it for yourself”

Steve Power, Head of Acute Capital Delivery at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

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A Yewdale thank you!

We are so proud to be part of a community of staff, businesses and customers who have worked so hard to continue providing a much-needed service during unprecedented times and thank each and every one of you for playing your role.

To find out more about the services available, get in touch with our friendly team - we can’t wait to speak to you.