NHS workers are facing shortages of protective equipment in the battle against coronavirus – but one group is trying to help.
A&E nurse Ashleigh Linsdell realised that she and her colleagues were running out of scrubs and as a keen crafter in her spare time, she decided to source a pattern and create her own for her team at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, Lincolnshire.
Doctors, nurses and healthcare staff wear scrubs as they are designed to have minimal places for contaminants to hide and are easy to launder, but in the current pandemic situation, they get through many more pairs every day in a bid to prevent the spread of any germs.
When Ashleigh ran out of material, she posted on a sewing group asking for help sourcing more and she was inundated with offers from people wanting to sew some too.
So she created the For The Love of Scrubs – Our NHS Needs You Facebook group, trying to coordinate people together to sew as many sets as possible.
Less than a week later, the group has 9,000 members with people all over the UK making scrubs at home for their local hospitals.
In just three days, they have made over 260 sets.
They are now working with 19 hospitals, GP practices and home support to provide them with scrubs.
Ashleigh continues to run the group, with the help of her husband George, alongside her work has a nurse but says that people have really helped to coordinate for different areas.
She said ‘I decided to start sewing scrubs for my own work family at Pilgrim hospital as we are short – this puts my lovely colleagues and patients at risk.
‘The members of the group have really taken control and have coordinated into specific areas based on hospitals willing to accept.’
Ashleigh is providing some scrubs kits with the pattern and material for three sets for sewers who can’t afford to buy it themselves, as well as asking those with material or who can afford to buy some to print the pattern and make them at home.
Ashleigh explains: ‘We received a donated pattern which is being used but due to the sheer amount of people we have, we organised a fundraiser as we can’t obtain enough materials for everyone.
‘It’s a two-man-band of my husband and myself organising! He is manning the Facebook page, and I am sourcing, cutting, packing and supplying the materials outside of work.’
To make a set, you need 3.5m of 100% cotton or polycotton in navy or black, but some hospitals are accepting other colours or patterns for use by paediatric staff, so you may be able to use old duvet covers or sheets that are clean and dry.
For those who can’t sew, there are other ways to help.
Ashleigh adds: ‘I would love for more people to get involved. The more the better!
‘The more publicity we receive the more we can help the NHS and its staff to offer a fluid level of care without worrying if there are enough sets of scrubs to have a wee or to have lunch.
‘On the front line, in a covid area, one member of staff can go through a minimum of 10 sets of scrubs a day.’
If you can get your hands on 3m of cotton or polycotton, you can print the free pattern at home and make scrubs in various sizes. The group has lists of hospitals who need help.
Ashleigh added that they’d also love help from courier companies or people who can print a0 patterns to speed up the process.
She said: ‘We’d love anything anyone can donate to the cause, be it material that can be sent directly to us and we can then distribute accordingly, courier companies who would be happy to offer free delivery services or printers who can print a0 patterns for those unable to do so.
‘We have hundreds if not more people who want to help but are financially unable to do so, which is awful, but we just don’t have enough funding to provide any more sets.’
Ashleigh added that the support has been utterly heartwarming and the response to the project has made her cry.