Wellingborough businessman's dismay as offers of coronavirus help go unanswered

Jeff Smith has offered his workforce to the Government but has not been able to get through

By Sam Wildman
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:50 am

A Wellingborough businessman has spoken of his frustration after his offers to help the Government during the coronavirus crisis fell on deaf ears.

Jeff Smith, managing director of ICD Ltd who supply equipment for mobile phone operator networks, offered his workforce to help two weeks ago after an appeal for ventilators to help the NHS.

He tried to contact the ventilator helpline to offer support without success and says he has been asking, emailing and shouting to try and get the message through.

ICD's Wellingborough base.

He said: "We will put our work on hold to help out the country - but nobody seems to be listening."

Mr Smith said he has 25 production staff at their Wellingborough base on the Finedon Road Industrial Estate, making cable assembly and metal fabrication, and eight employees there in warehousing and distribution.

At their Birmingham base there's another eight staff in warehousing and 25 drivers who can help the national effort.

He said they can help with electronics, wiring, assembly, packaging and nationwide delivery for ventilators and other essential equipment.

Mr Smith was so dismayed at the lack of a response he took to social media to appeal and try and get the message through.

It was only then that he appeared to get somewhere when Kettering General Hospital replied to thank him for making them aware, adding that they would pass on his message to their coronavirus procurement team.

He has already called Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and was given a number for the helpline, which he is yet to get through on, and has contacted Boris Johnson's office.

He said: "I am frustrated, angry, disappointed. There's a massive disconnect somewhere.

"Just ask and we will help."

He added that he has a number of suppliers that have "also been left scratching their heads, wondering how they can be heard".

Mr Smith said he has now set up a dedicated email address - [email protected] - to try and help the national effort.

He said: "I am not looking for thanks or a profit.

"All I want to do, as do many others in my position, is to help the NHS save lives.

"This is a national emergency that we all need to help overcome."

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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