By Catherine Dolan
Responding to the widely publicised shortage of scrubs and other PPE in the NHS and care sector, TW Sews Scrubs sprang to life in April.
Within a couple of days, they had a WhatsApp group with 30 members, a listing on the Scrub Hub website, a Go Fund Me page and orders were pouring in.
The list of volunteer sewers, fabric cutters and general helpers quickly increased to over 80 people, with an amazingly impressive cottage industry forming despite complications of social distancing, fabric shortages and the unpredictability of orders and sizes needed!
Neighbours were enlisted to wash and iron fabric donations, family members called on to make deliveries and try on scrubs for size and the WhatsApp group was awash with sewing and cutting tips.
After call-outs for fabric and help via NextDoor and the newsletter of Handmade Workshops, co- ordinator Catherine Dolan was overwhelmed by the emails and texts pouring in from people offering everything from sewing to fabric donations and help with deliveries. “In such a time of uncertainty, I think it really helped us all to feel that at last we might be doing something useful and positive”, she says.
To date, the group have supplied at least 300 sets of scrubs and 80 gowns to local hospitals and care homes, as well as GPs, community nurses and charities. Using a mixture of repurposed bedding and new material bought using money donated, scrubs have ranged from traditional blue through to flamingo and leopard print – with everything in between!
St James’s Avenue, Hampton Hill and Field End, Teddington became particular hives of activity, co- ordinated by Dawn Ohlson and Lesley Alexander, with fabric, haberdashery and patterns flying between neighbours at speed!
The group comes from an incredibly broad range of backgrounds, including a dentist, engineer and accountant, as well as people more used to sewing theatrical costumes and wedding dresses, but quickly formed into a great team. “I’m really proud to be part of TW Scrubs and, despite most people not knowing each other before, of how willing they have been to help each other,” says Denise Lloyd.
Though born out of a terrible crisis, lasting friendships have certainly been formed and community spirit proven to be alive and kicking. It’ll be wonderful, too, when social distancing is in the past and the group can all meet for the well- earned ‘after party’!