Individually made scrubs donated to health workers during pandemic

Hilary Smith and Isabella Weir of South Devon Scrubs with Paul Norrish the Trusts Donation Manager

Published: 11 May 2020

A network of voluntary seamstresses has delivered locally-produced scrubs to health staff working for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

The South Devon Scrubs Angels handed over one of their orders – 100 of the protective clothing to be worn by community support workers, who deliver care to vulnerable people in their own homes. Sets were also sent to Torbay Hospital Emergency Department and Maternity.

Iola Weir, a professional costume and prop maker for performance artists, started the group which includes home-based workers in Teignmouth, Brixham and Totnes. She said: “My professional work is on hold and I want to use my skills as a seamstress. So, when a doctor asked if I could make some scrubs. I started with six and then realised there was a bigger need.”

She set up a Facebook page as a way of reaching anyone who wanted to help supply health workers in the local area by using their needlework skills. She now has a network of 170 mainly women and delivery drivers who also keep homeworkers supplied with materials.

Iola said the sewers are also benefiting from the work: “It’s really rewarding for us all to know we are doing something to support the NHS and health workers in all fields. Many of our home workers are socially isolated due to the lockdown and finding it difficult, so keeping occupied is very good for their mental health and wellbeing.”

Fellow network organiser Hilary Smith, a former nurse and Community Midwife, said: “We are all doing this because we love to sew. I’m now a waitress who has been furloughed, so I also need something to do. Older people in our network who are not able to go out say they like the contact with the world and being useful.”

Helen Davies-Cox, Personalisation and Innovation lead for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, received the scrubs for community workers. 

She said: “There is increased demand across the NHS for scrubs, due to COVID-19, so we are delighted to receive these very special purpose-made scrubs, individually made with loving care as a boost to our own stocks.

“Our community-based Rapid Response Team is busy delivering compassionate and personalised care to people in our local communities across Torbay and South Devon; keeping them safe and well in the many places that they call home.” 

Iola thanked local businesses, seamstresses and charities and other funders for all their support. These include Torbay Hospital Nurses League, a GoFundme appeal, local volunteers and businesses in the Torbay, Brixham, Newton Abbot, Exeter and Totnes area.  

She said: “Among the many people who have offered to help are seamstresses, who have a home business and have donated their time and expertise lovingly. 

“And there are numerous individuals who have donated money, offered to drive and deliver kits, made laundry bags, the list goes on. I am always wary I have missed someone out- the love and support has been overwhelming.”

South Devon Scrubs Angels can be reached through their facebook page at this address: https://www.facebook.com/southdevonscrubs/

Scrubs by South Devon Scrubs

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