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15 October 2020

Face coverings that make a difference

King’s is working with local social enterprises to provide reusable face coverings for students and staff

The King's lion wearing a white face covering. Blue text on a yellow background reads 'Keeping King's safe together'

King’s College London is working with local social enterprises and ethical suppliers to produce thousands of reusable face coverings for students and staff.

45,000 face coverings will be given to staff and students, including in Welcome packs, as part of our collective measures to create a COVID-secure environment and to support our community in protecting themselves and others on campus and beyond. The face coverings can be washed and reused, reducing the amount of waste heading to landfill.

Some of the face coverings will be produced by social enterprise The Skill Mill, which provides employment for ex–offenders aged 16-18 across the UK, including through a project in Croydon, South London. Initially founded to provide training and opportunities in water and land-based management, The Skill Mill started producing face coverings during the pandemic.

As a social enterprise, The Skill Mill has a core objective of putting people and the planet before profit. Since the coronavirus outbreak and the forced cessation of normal operations, we changed our focus to begin manufacturing and supplying face coverings which also meet our social and environmental objectives. We offer our heartfelt thanks to King’s College London for delivering on the commitment to buy from the social enterprise sector and leading the way in innovative and socially responsible procurement.’

David Parks, Managing Director and Founder of The Skill Mill

King’s makes a targeted effort to support businesses based in our home boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth and Westminster.

Ethstat Ethical Stationery will also supply face coverings for King’s students and staff. The Community Interest Cooperative is based near Guy’s Campus in Southwark and was the first stationery company to achieve carbon neutral status in 2005.

Social enterprise EcoEveryday provide ethical and sustainable promotional materials. Their team said: ‘The award of this contract allows our business to continue, grow and sustain. This is so important for a small social enterprise like us, especially at the moment with the challenges that COVID-19 has brought upon us. Being a social enterprise, all the surpluses generated through contracts allow us to advance our social causes. Last year we were able to donate to the Hari Krishna Temple, supporting feeding the homeless and those in need around King’s Cross, as well as supporting their lifestyle initiative integrating formerly homeless people back into society.’

‘The wellbeing of our community is our greatest priority and so we wanted to provide items like face coverings to help students and staff look after their own health as well as that of others. By working with social enterprises, we are able to support the King’s community during the pandemic while also supporting local businesses and living our ethos of service to society.

Jessica Cotton, Chief of Staff & Deputy COO (Arts & Sciences)

Our commitment to making the world a better place extends to the purchases we make as a university. When we needed face coverings, we were keen to work with suppliers who share our values and who are making a difference with, in and for our communities.

Veronica Daly, Chief Procurement Officer

Read about King’s response to COVID-19

Find out more about Sustainability at King’s

King’s Socially Responsible Procurement Policy aims to deliver social value through our supply chain and to make sure that our suppliers provide their goods and services in ways that do not harm people or places – but instead positively benefit both.