Two Wolverhampton businesses working in partnership during the Covid-19 pandemic to produce PPE for the NHS have been helped by the Council’s Aim for Gold programme to grow and create new jobs for local people.

The support has enabled Airguard Filters Ltd, and Pam Covers Ltd to produce vital PPE supplies to hospitals and care homes in the fight against coronavirus.

Airguard Filters, who specialise in the manufacture of permanent cleanable air filters for power generation and industry, received a £10,799 grant through the scheme.

Based on Watery Lane Industrial Estate, the company is producing PPE for the NHS, winning contracts ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 garments a week with West Midlands hospitals – activity that has created 2 new jobs, with the vacancies filled through the Council and DWP’s Wolves at Work employment programme.

As well as supplying the NHS with a variety of surgical gowns and coveralls, it is also making masks, face shields, aprons and hand sanitiser for the general public and businesses.

Airguard Filters owner, Maqq Rafique, said: “Sales at the start of the pandemic for Airguard Filters had started to slip and our intention for the manufacture of gowns was purely reactive and a desire to help our frontline staff.

“We very quickly learned that we had interchangeable skills which allowed us to adapt and start making gowns on an industrial scale.

“I would say that one the biggest assets a SME has, is its ability to think on its feet, as ultimately the situation is such we need to survive.

“The pandemic has allowed us to change our business model into an industry that we were totally unaware of. We are hopeful that the future is bright.

“The Aim for Gold team has been fantastic as the financial support enabled us to pivot our business very quickly for the manufacture of garments for the healthcare sector. They are also very good at signposting to other services which are crucial for SMEs.”

Upper Villiers Street-based Pam Covers, manufacture products for the bed mattress industry. It has been supported by an Aim for Gold grant of £11,250 to help buy 6 specialist sewing machines to add to its quilt making machines, enabling it to produce quilting that can be used in making jackets, coats, winter wear, sports clothing, sound reducing products and filtration products – and, crucially, filtration components for Airguard Filters’ PPE products. 

Since the start of the year the people the company employs has increased from five to 18.

Pam Covers owner, Gurmukh Singh, said: “The business has survived a very difficult period. We are now stronger and can go forward with new projects as well as existing business. 

“We are proud to have helped a lot of people into employment and continued to train them. Our long term goal is to retain staff even after the pandemic is over. 

“The Aim for Gold programme has given us confidence to invest and create jobs. A special thanks goes out to Business Development Officer, Sharan, who has supported me through the grant application process.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “We’ve been working closely with both these companies for some time now and it is good to see that despite the pandemic, they are not only surviving but also growing and creating vital jobs for local people.

“The ‘Aim for Gold’ programme is open to most small and medium sized businesses in Wolverhampton. The support we can offer can be critical, especially in these difficult times, and is an important part of our Relighting the City strategy.

“It gives the businesses the support they need to help them continue to thrive and grow, and to look ahead to better times once the pandemic is over.”

Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Greg Brackenridge, added: “These 2 businesses make me feel very proud to represent the City of Wolverhampton.

“I was delighted to visit them both and thank them in person for the sterling work they are doing in helping the fight against Covid-19.

“They are also both great examples of the collaborative work going on between businesses and the Council in the city.”

Businesses can register their interest for the Council’s Aim for Gold programme, by visiting Aim for Gold