Mel Downing is one of a consortium of local curtain makers who came together to make scrubs for healthcare workers
At the end of March we were aware there was a real shortage of scrubs – all healthcare workers were going to need them and due to the contagious nature of Covid-19 would need several sets each and wash bags for them to be put in once taken off and laundered.
A consortium of local curtain makers set up a Justgiving page to raise money to buy rolls of washable polycotton, within days we had raised a few thousand. The total now is more than £15,000.
I have run Melanie Downing Interiors, a busy curtain design company for 25 years and one of my blind makers Julie Knaggs had trained as a pattern cutter. We decided the best way forward was to bulk cut the fabric and then hand out kits for people to sew depending on their skills.
This saved us so much time and also very little wasted fabric. It was really important we sent out beautifully made scrubs that were made to last. We created a Facebook page and very quickly had an army of more than 80 volunteers from curtain makers, dress makers, costume makers, and even a tutu maker.
Local hubs were established in Farnham, Guildford, Haslemere, Petersfield, Petworth and Godalming to try and reduce journeys and volunteer drivers co-ordinated delivery and collection.
Realising the phenomenal demand we also enlisted the help of Mint Velvet who delivered 800 sets to Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, for us.
We have supplied more than 2,500 sets to The Royal Surrey, Frimley Park, Basingstoke Hospital and Hospice, Haslemere, Petworth, Milford and Alton Community Hospitals, Phyllis Tuckwell, Marie Curie, Macmillan, Meath Home, Ticehurst Care Home, Aldershot Community team and numerous GP surgeries as well as several private requests.
It has been an incredible logistical challenge to achieve so much in such a short space of time but worth it to know it is being used.
There are so many talented people in the area and the team spirit has just been such a positive experience. I feel lucky to have been able to use my business experience and skills to co-ordinate such an important project with the help of so many really amazing people.
We are now starting to make masks which will be distributed primarily via local food banks and hope these will be sent out with a wash bag and soap stressing the importance of continued hand washing.
Most of the professional seamstresses in the team are currently unable to work due to restrictions re visiting people’s homes but hoping we can soon get back to work!
Contact Mel Downing – www.melaniedowning.co.uk 01428 713868; Coleen Smart – www.honeybeehandmade.co.uk 01483 577168; Caroline Lockie – Sewn – 01483 425577; Jo Martin – www.josephineellen.co.uk; Julie Knaggs – www.montaguesadles.co.uk
Stitches in time
A teacher has set up a volunteer sewing group to make scrubs for health care workers
Sewing enthusiasts have been taking to their machines to answer the call for scrubs, masks, scrub bags and gowns to help support front line workers.
Head of Design & Technology at Glebelands School in Cranleigh, Tamsin Mitchell (pictured), heard local frontline workers were faced with a drastic shortage of scrubs, masks, and similar equipment, and decided to pitch in.
Having seen a Facebook post from a nurse who works for Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, she contacted her to see if there was anything she could sew to help.
“She wanted scrubs bags, so people can change at hospital and take their uniform home in the bag and pop it straight in the wash. I went online to see if I could get more people on board, and I found a national group called For the Love of Scrubs. They had subpages for local areas, and there wasn’t one for Cranleigh. So I volunteered.”
Tamsin formed NHS Sewing Cranleigh and Dorking to mobilise local sewing enthusiasts including Glebelands pupils. The group already has more than 65 members, who have together produced items for St Joseph’s Specialist School and College and more than half a dozen other local organisations, including care homes and medical practices.
Tamsin said: “It’s a real community effort. Everyone is stepping up to the plate and helping each other. In a time of need, it’s the practical and creative skills that make a difference.”
Anyone in need of items or wanting to join the group should contact Tamsin through the NHS Sewing Cranleigh and Dorking group on Facebook.
Supporting Surrey SAR
The science department at King Edward’s Witley donates PPE to Surrey Search & Rescue
In 2010, relies solely on donations to purchase vital lifesaving equipment and provide training for its team.King Edward’s Witley has delivered much-needed supplies of personal protective equipment in response to an urgent appeal from Surrey Search & Rescue.
Woking-based charity, Surrey SAR – a voluntary specialist search team – posted a request on Facebook for vital supplies of PPE to protect their responders as they help Surrey Police and the county council at this time, checking on the welfare of vulnerable members of the community.
King Edward’s science department technician, Alison Hill sourced, sterilised and packed boxes of protective goggles and disposable gloves which were given to the charity.
Head of Science, Jim Culbert said they were delighted to be able to support Surrey SAR: “This is an amazing organisation. During the current coronavirus pandemic, Surrey Search & Rescue is playing a pivotal role in checking on the welfare of those who are deemed particularly susceptible to the virus, ensuring they remain well and lending a caring and sympathetic ear when people need it most.”
Surrey SAR assists the emergency services in the search for missing vulnerable adults and children. Volunteers, assisted by search dogs and drones, deliver an on-call response service 24 hours a day across Surrey and surrounding areas, when the emergency services need their specialist skills.
On average 2,100 people go missing in Surrey each year and as such Surrey SAR is one of the busiest search & rescue teams in the UK. The charity, which was formed in 2010, relies solely on donations to purchase vital lifesaving equipment and provide training for its team.
You can donate or read more about Surrey Search and Rescue here.