Business student James Eid, 19, has given thousands of protective coverings to our appeal partner The Felix Project, which is delivering up to 30 tonnes of food every day to those hit hardest by the pandemic.
Mr Eid, who lives in Radlett, was inspired to make face coverings because his grandmother, Anna Ross, 68, has Behcet’s disease.
The condition, which causes blood vessel inflammation and has various side effects, also lowers the immune system meaning she is more vulnerable to Covid-19.
Mr Eid struggled to obtain low-cost face coverings to protect his grandmother and so, spotting a gap in the market, decided to import specialist production machines and make them himself.
Using money donated by his father, who is joint CEO of food company Signature Flatbreads, the Lancaster University student imported a production line of four machines, naming his new company Signature Masks.
The entrepreneur has since opened a factory in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, with production beginning in earnest at the end of the month. To start with, he will make 36,000 face coverings a week, but the size and scope of the factory means he will be able to scale up production and make up to 500 million coverings annually.
The coverings are disposable and made up of three-ply non-woven plastic material – meaning they are water resistant and can be worn for up to 24 hours. He will sell the coverings from his website – they will cost £3.79 for 10, or £2.99 if consumers subscribe for weekly deliveries.
On donating thousands to The Felix Project, the teenager said: “I want to support those who are helping others in this crisis.” Mark Curtin, of The Felix Project, said: “These Signature Masks will help protect volunteers and staff in our food redistribution warehouses.”
The Independent is encouraging readers to help groups that are trying to feed the hungry during the crisis – find out how you can help here. Follow this link to donate to our campaign in London, in partnership with the Evening Standard.