With over 6,500m of fabric bought, 3000m of tape purchased and upwards of 500 spools of threads purchased and distributed, this sewing project could be mistaken for a new business, but it is in fact a group of over 650 volunteers who have come together to make much needed scrubs, caps and masks for those working on the front line in the health and social care sector in Cornwall during Covid-19.
Started by Annie Lucas in April this year to address the need for more scrubs that could be easily and frequently taken home and washed without the risk of cross contamination, Cornwall Scrubs now has almost one thousand volunteers across the county, who are all giving their time to sew, wash fabric, cut and distribute additional protective clothing for health and social care staff. This is alongside the volunteer team of project coordinators, who have worked tirelessly to set up systems, source fabrics, web design, fundraise, and manage the volunteers.
Many previously non scrub wearing staff are being re-deployed to scrub wearing areas, and many more are electing to wear scrubs because of concerns about the viral transmission on clothes and fabric. In addition an in-flux of returning staff has increased demand.
The scheme works on a request basis. Hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and other health or social care settings are able to request scrubs, caps or laundry bags through the dedicated Cornwall Scrubs website. The scrubs are then made to order (different sizes are available) by one of the many volunteers and dropped off at the ‘Scrubs Hub’ where they can be delivered to the front-line workers who need them.
Those on the receiving end of the scrubs have been quick to share their thanks,
‘I just want to say a massive thank you for my scrubs and bag. I’m a doctor in the Emergency Department at Treliske. It isn’t just the practicality of having enough pairs of scrubs, it’s more the overwhelming kindness of you all for giving up your time to do this, that means so much. Thank you for all that you are doing for us.’
Materials for the scrubs have come through a variety of means. Some people are donating fabric to use (it has to fit strict guidelines to be washed hygienically), local companies such as Seasalt and Finisterre have donated reams of their fabric, and some has been bought by Cornwall Scrubs thanks to generous donations by the public through their Go Fund Me page which has raised over £16,000.
One volunteer cited her motivation for sewing for Cornwall Scrubs,
‘I have a young friend who is a Nurse. She and her husband, also a Nurse, have taken the huge decision to take their two boys to live with their grandparents so that they don’t bring an infection home. That is an incredible sacrifice.”‘
‘NHS staff and carers were at risk and needed to be kept safe. They took care of my partner’s mum and got her through Covid-19. It was a thank you to them directly. I wanted to help, my business was locked down so it gave me something to do and a purpose.’
Cornwall Scrubs is part of a bigger effort. In the UK, there is a national group called ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ which has over 23,000 members coming together from the sewing community.
Founder of Cornwall Scrubs Annie Lucas has found herself in the middle of a whirlwind of scrub-making for the last 8 weeks but says of the experience:
‘It will probably be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of my life to have been involved in setting this up, I am so grateful to everyone involved for making it happen!’
If you’d like to find out more information, visit their Facebook group.