COVID-19 Update: 20th April

This evening's update covers: the gin distillery, printers, and other local businesses switching production to help keep Cardiff key workers safe; a reminder of changes to Free School Meals provision; and the official opening of Dragon's Heart Hospital.


The gin distillery, printers, and other local businesses switching production to help keep Cardiff key workers safe

Local business, including a gin distillery and a company producing branded promotional materials have been helping Cardiff Council's response to COVID-19 by switching their production streams at short notice to produce hand sanitiser and other personal protective equipment.

Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Russell Goodway said: "Having a flexible local economy that has been able to respond rapidly to the changing demands brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19 has been incredibly helpful for us as a local authority as we respond to the virus."

South Wales' first full-scale gin distillery, Hensol Castle Distillery is usually in the business of creating high-quality gins and spirits in the unique location of a grade 1 listed castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, but now they've taken orders from Cardiff Council for enough hand sanitiser to last almost a month.

Manufacturing face visors is a far cry from printing custom branded promotional materials like ring binders, signs, labels and exhibition displays but Ferndale based business Screentec went from business as usual to producing a prototype mask and making deliveries of the finished product within two weeks.

Partner companies under the Resource Group umbrella have also been doing their bit. Inspired by a local resident, Ashley Jay, who had been making face shields on his 3D printers at home and giving them away free to the NHS and local care homes, the Chairman of Resource, Nick Williams, assembled a team to manufacture a high quality single-use face shield for the healthcare sector and others working on the front line in the community. 

In just a few days, the team turned an existing staff gym facility at Wentloog Corporate Park into a 3D print farm, with 50 3D printers brought from Amazon overnight and have since produced thousands of face shields. 

Cardiff based manufacturers BCB International have been trading for 160 years, producing life-saving equipment for the military and police, but have moved quickly to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 and are now supplying Cardiff Council's key workers with hand sanitiser, gloves, alcohol wipes and more.

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Changes to Free School Meals

Families with children eligible for Free School Meals will now be able to buy food using funds deposited directly into their bank account, whilst schools are closed due to COVID-19. This will provide parents with more flexibility on where they can shop and the voucher scheme which is currently being delivered will continue to run alongside the new arrangement.

Cardiff Council has developed the new arrangement which will deliver BACS payments using Parent Pay, an online payment system already used by 91 of Cardiff's schools.

The Council is assisting the remaining 34 schools in signing up to the system to ensure everyone can access the regular payment scheme.

Parents or carers with children who are eligible for Free School Meals will receive a letter during next week which will provide information on how to receive their fortnightly payment. For those who are not yet using ParentPay, there will be a step by step guide on how to register and contact details should they require further assistance.

Parents and carers are encouraged to register to receive payments as soon as they receive their letters so that they can receive their first BACS payments from Monday 27, April.

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Official opening of Dragon's Heart Hospital

A big thank you to all Council staff for their hard work and professionalism behind the scenes to ensure that Dragon' s Heart Hospital was able to open today.

The 1,500 bed temporary hospital, which has been built on the pitch in the Principality Stadium, was opened by Welsh rugby star Dr Jamie Roberts this afternoon, who is temporarily working for the NHS as a clinical innovation fellow.

Politicians, senior representatives from the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and Prince Charles gave their thanks to all the people and organisations that have worked together to ensure that the temporary hospital was able to be built at breath-taking speed.

Cllr Caro Wild Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said: "This project shows what can be done at phenomenal speed in very difficult circumstances. Council staff from a number of departments including planning, highways, building control and economic development have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the project could be delivered and the facility operates correctly.

"The Council will be providing parking for both NHS staff and contractors in the city centre, and we are working with Cardiff Bus to ensure that NHS staff working shifts are able to get to and from the stadium when they are working."

Cardiff Council's First Point of Contact Hospital Team which is part of the Independent Living Services, and known as The Pink Army, will also be working at the field hospital. They will work alongside Health and Social Care colleagues, to support a range of patients when they are ready to be discharged from hospital.

The NCP car park has been deep cleaned to ensure that contractors that are working on the new hospital are able to park their car safely. South Wales Police will also be carrying out regular patrols of the car park to ensure public safety.

NHS staff will be using the car park at Sophia Gardens with shuttle buses provided by Cardiff Bus so that staff can get to and from the stadium.