Sourcing everything from personal protective equipment to germ-killing disinfectant chemicals and handwash has been one of the over-riding problems of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, Yorkshire-based hygiene experts Elliott Hygiene have pulled out the stops to continue supporting their longstanding clients on the frontline, including food manufacturers and other key industries, care providers and Hull City Council.

And now, following the Government’s announcement of a gradual lifting of lockdown, many organisations are concerned how they can put changes representing the so-called ‘new normal’ into practice, get their people back to work and start serving customers again.

However, Elliott’s see this is the moment they’ve been preparing for the past 30 years, and have moved heaven and earth in recent weeks to ensure they can continue to offer customers the expert guidance and support they need, coupled with unrivalled access to critical products that are in short supply elsewhere.

“Over recent weeks we’ve been helping everyone from local farm shops to restaurants and larger food outlets in pivoting their customer sales to provide click and collect food and other grocery items and meal takeaways; as well as helping schools, offices and factories generally get back into operation,” said Janette.

Working tirelessly with their long-established supply chains, Elliott’s – who have provided hygiene services for major organisations like Hull City Council for many years – have made sure they’re able to access much-sought after protective masks, visors, aprons, hand sanitisers and fully compliant disinfectant cleaning products, tested to EN14476 and EN1276 standards; as well as high-strength viricidal cleaners. They now have these items in sufficient quantities to help firms to get back to business and service providers like care homes, local authorities and schools to be able to carry out their essential work safely.

“I won’t deny it’s been tough,” said co-director Janette Elliott. “Stocks of essential supplies like this basically dried up early in the pandemic because the Government had to procure all protective equipment which was in production at the time and re-divert it to our NHS.

“However, we’ve managed to keep our loyal customers supplied throughout and have also been working on sourcing plenty to help the many more organisations that are going to need it in the days and weeks ahead. After all, this new way of operating looks set to become a long-term change.

“As well as being an independent family-owned business, we’re also established members of the Socius supply network, which gives us a combined approach and buying power and access to not only source essential kit, but also ensure it is of the right standard and, ultimately, up to the job.”

Janette explained that, thanks to these longstanding relationships, Elliott’s have been able to secure a pipeline for around two million pieces of PPE in total, and they are now reaching out to firms struggling to know what to do, to offer them expert help. As well as sourcing chemicals and equipment, Elliott’s regularly carries out reviews of premises in order to recommend a strategic approach to hygiene management which ensures its clients meet the highest possible standards at any time, and proves extra-valuable in a pandemic situation like the current one.

“At Elliott’s, we have lived and breathed hygiene for decades,” said Janette. “When we start working with an organisation, we have an open discussion enabling us to evaluate their whole operation and provide them with an assessment and recommendations for everything they need to do to safeguard the health of their staff and customers. We then build strong, long-term relationships, we become an extension of their management team, enabling them to adapt to emerging situations like the changes brought on by COVID-19.

“Our diligent set up and attention to detail naturally lends itself to the new COVID-secure measures the Government is talking about which, although they contain some additional steps like two-metre social distancing, essentially mirror the kind of good hygiene practice we’ve been championing for years, to safeguard people against everything from the usual seasonal flu or norovirus to this unprecedented health crisis.”

And Janette’s simple message to businesses and other organisations that might be struggling to come to terms with what’s required was ‘get in touch, we can help’.

“I imagine there will be many organisations out there at the moment that are desperate to seize the opportunity the Government has given them to get up and running again, but are very stressed and worried in terms of how they are going to achieve that, given the risks presented by this pandemic,” she added.

“However, it is possible to do it with the right advice. We have years of knowledge and experience to take the worry off their shoulders, and the supply chain to source them the things they need to implement changes, all delivered in the form of a robust strategic plan which will fully support any risk assessment they are carrying out at the present time and, ultimately, protect their business or other organisation.”

And she is keen that people get the right advice, to avoid leaving themselves open to problems.

Janette said: “I’m acutely conscious that, while the experience of this pandemic has brought out the best in many people, it has also led to some unscrupulous practices going on, like firms selling things such as hand sanitiser and protective equipment that isn’t of a high enough standard, and at an inflated price.

“There will also be lots of people offering to carry out risk assessments for organisations at very high rates, which they will pay because they are frightened of falling foul of the law.

“We want them to know that advice is available to them at no cost whatsoever, and we, as a respected local company can carry out and implement the right hygiene procedures for them in a strategic and robust way, without that initial assessment costing them a penny.

“The things we then supply them with also meet the most stringent standards, even as far as the environmental rating of the chemicals we provide. So there is really no reason to add to their woes at this challenging time.”