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Waltham Forest volunteers stitch up scrubs for key workers

Waltham Forest Scrub Hub is a group of over 130 volunteers who are making scrubs for frontline NHS workers in North East London, from Chingford and Ilford to Walthamstow and Leytonstone.

It all started when two doctors who wanted to help tackle the national scrub shortage decided to put out a request on social media calling on people to make extra sets.

Amy Westwood, a Costume Designer living in Walthamstow, saw the request and set up the Waltham Forest Scrub Hub. Within three weeks, the organisation has grown substantially. Amy and her admin team are now co-ordinating an army of cutters, bundlers, makers and distributors. So far they have made 190 sets of scrubs and rising.

Amy Westwood said:

We have a diverse range of people including costume makers, fashion cutters, tailors and sewing hobbyists. It’s been wonderful to discover such a massive amount of talent in our local area, and bring all of those people together for such an amazing cause, within the guidelines of the lockdown restriction, of course! Not only do we provide much needed scrubs for our incredible NHS workers on the frontline, but it also gives people something to do, which I feel is an important thing for morale during this time.

The national shortage is due to imports of PPE being stopped during the pandemic as well as more workers being required to wear scrubs, like GPs and nursing home staff. There’s no system set up, so the workers have to source the scrubs themselves.

The Waltham Forest Scrub Hub was lucky enough to have Duncan Gray of the fabric-based product design consultancy Süpahulk Ltd come on board early on, providing the team with the use of a CNC fabric cutting machine, which can cut out the scrubs in just five minutes. This means that the team can quickly produce batches of scrubs to a high standard.

The team have created a comprehensive digital sewing guide, to help support sewers in the group, allowing more of the local community to get involved. There is also a dedicated scrub laundry bag making group which allows less confident sewers to also get involved without needing help.

There has been such an influx of orders that lead times are now 2-3 weeks but with more volunteers and more funding the team can help more people faster. The organisation has a dedicated GoFundMe donation page. A donation of £10 covers the cost of materials, transportation, and delivery of the finished product. All makers and organisers are giving their time for free.

Becky, one of the makers of the scrubs, said:

Both my parents are doctors so this is really near and dear to my heart. I’m super excited to be part of this project. When I dropped my first sets of scrubs off, it was such an amazing feeling to leave them at the door and wave at the person and know that they were going to contribute to keeping them and their family safe. I’m definitely going to making more scrubs and being more involved in the project moving forwards.

To make a donation to Scrub Hub Waltham Forest visit: gofundme.com/f/makescrubsforthenhs

Image credit: Scrub Hub Waltham Forest

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