Kemsley paper mill duo rally to support local NHS staff sewing urgently needed scrubs

Calls for PPE support during the Covid-19 pandemic answered by local individuals via Facebook.

In the UK, like many countries around the world, the health service is facing a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Recently an NHS nurse created a Facebook campaign urgently requesting help to make scrubs, hats and bags for medical staff at local hospitals in Kent.

Scrubs - website.jpgEmployees from the DS Smith Kemsley paper mill in Kent immediately responded and rallied additional support for the cause. Clare Marshall and Claire Forest are both part of a growing Facebook community, including Medway Scrubbers who share materials and patterns to create the much-needed scrubs.

Clare and Claire also recruited engineers at the paper mill to help print off design patterns which are then used to produce scrubs made from materials donated locally. Putting used pillowcases, polycotton sheets and duvet covers to good use the duo stresses the urgent need for continued donations to help keep the initiative going. A growing number of people are contributing their time and efforts to sew and transport the items to the local hospital teams.

scrubs-patterns-pillowcases-web.jpgUsing recycled fabric, Clare has made 11 scrub hats and 19 scrub bags for the Trust and Claire is in the middle of making 12 sets of scrubs for The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate.

Claire who has been sewing for a few years never imagined her skills would be used to create medical clothing but was glad to be able to do something to help frontline staff. Initially taking 14 hours to produce the first two sets of full scrubs, she is finding quicker ways to speed up the process and getting vital medical clothing needed to local hospital staff. Feedback from NHS staff has been extremely positive and full of gratitude for the dedicated volunteers.

Claire Forest, Environment & Waste Coordinator at DS Smith

There are several different Facebook sites in Kent – for example, Maidstone Scrubbers and Medway Scrubbers. They are getting requests from hospitals and newly set up COVID hubs across Kent for hundreds of pairs of scrubs, bags, masks and caps. Some of these have got nothing at all. The demand is so high we had to purchase new fabric to keep up.

— Claire Forest, Environment & Waste Coordinator at DS Smith

sewing-scrubs-web.jpgAs of 7 April, the volunteers from the Facebook group have committed to producing 112 sets of scrubs for Kemsley’s local hospital the Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Clare Marshall, Quality Systems Manager at DS Smith

The original activity came from the Metro article regarding ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ which arose from an A&E nurse Ashleigh Linsdell deciding that she could not wait for the government PPE, that there was an urgent need to get scrubs made there and then. Where we can fundraise, we are asked by hospitals to provide scrubs in specific colours, as scrubs are used to communicate their role in busy wards and A&Es. Anyone willing to help in your local area will be very much appreciated by your local group – even if it is just dropping off and picking up from sewers that are self-isolating due to health risks.

— Clare Marshall, Quality Systems Manager at DS Smith

There are Facebook groups like these all over the UK, and Claire and Clare urge anyone who would like to support to join. If you don’t sew you can still get involved by donating money or fabric. The Repair Café – Faversham is one such Facebook group, seeking urgent donations to purchase more fabric to make scrubs.

Now more than ever, people are joining forces from the workplace through local communities and via Facebook to play their part in providing critical support to vital services during these challenging times.

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