Burnley Shameless star Jody Latham making generous PPE donation after contracting Covid-19
The kind-hearted gesture comes after the former Shameless star tested positive for the virus just two weeks after moving back to the area.
Jody (37) said the overriding emotion following his diagnosis was one of anxiety. He immediately isolated with family, and it was during those two weeks he began thinking a lot about people's mental health and how the pandemic was affecting those less fortunate.
"It's certainly been an eventful few months," said the former Walton High School pupil. "I developed symptoms shortly after moving back to the area from Manchester city centre. I was a bit chesty at first, then I had a temperature and a cough. I went down to Turf Moor to be tested, and around 24 hours later I received a text later saying I had tested positive.
"I couldn't believe it. I was really anxious at first, that fear factor kicked in. I isolated for around 16 to 17 days. It was like being a prisoner in my own home. But I know I was one of the lucky ones.
"The social impact has been huge. It's devastating. There's been so much suffering and the effect it has had on people, not just physically but mentally as well, is heartbreaking."
Through his firm, Safe and Protect UK, Jody is now donating 100,000 face mask to charities across the North-West.
"I've been involved with a cosmetics and aesthetics distribution for a number of years.
"Before the lockdown a lot of our suppliers were saying demand was growing for PPE; for masks and for gloves. We could see what was happening.
"We started getting a lot of requests from the medical sector and so we turned our attention towards PPE. It happened organically really.
"We have 100,000 face masks now that we want to give away to charities, trusts, care homes; any not-for-profit organisations that would benefit from these.
"Some people are reluctant to come forward and ask because they don't think there are any more face masks. I'm telling you that we have thousands to give away and all you have to do is get in touch.
"We want people to be able to return to work, and a normal life, safely. Hopefully, these will help."
Jody found fame playing Lip Gallagher in Paul Abbott's Channel 4 comedy-drama gem Shameless. He went on to appear in a number of shows including Eastenders, Casualty, Waterloo Road and The Fixer.
"I am still an actor. I will always be an actor. Growing my businesses has afforded me the opportunity to sit back and choose my roles more carefully. It's more about the passion now. If the right role was to come up though I would definitely be interested.
"I still get people pointing at me now, because of Shameless. It is a bit embarrassing, but it does make me smile a little."
With Shameless now a firm favourite on Netflix, the series has been opened up to a whole new generation of fans.
"It's crazy. I have mates whose children have started watching it, and they're asking them if they know me. I've had to send out a few video messages.
"It's nice that there's a new generation growing up with it again. It was great to be part of a series like that. It's timeless."
As lockdown eases, father-of-two Jody, who grew up in Pendle, is looking forward to spending more time in his new, yet familiar surroundings.
"It is nice to be back. The opportunity came up to take this property. It's got breathtaking views, and is the complete opposite to where I've been living the past 15 years. It's pretty much been cold and wet since we arrived back though.
"I'd like to take some time out later in the year; go on holiday with the family, maybe abroad, but if not we'll go somewhere in the UK. It's important that we support the UK now, support local businesses."
For more information on Jody's PPE offer, visit www.safeandprotect.uk or email [email protected].