THE COUNTRY CALLED AND THE TEXTILE TEACHERS ANSWERED
The Covid-19 crisis has brought us together like nothing else has. The realisation early on, that the NHS was so short of PPE and not about to be restocked immediately, awakened an unlikely team of experts to support this situation!. Our amazing textile teachers!
News stories from all corners of the country talk of the amazing work teams and individuals have done in making scrubs, masks, scrubs bags and headbands for NHS staff. ‘Scrub hubs’ popped up across UK to help tackle nationwide shortage and a dedicated Facebook Group ‘For the Love Of Scrubs’ was set up to support this merry band of stitchers.
Ashleigh Linsdell an A&E nurse from Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire formed the group, which is now over 50,000 strong, after identifying the shortage in supply for scrubs to frontline NHS staff during the 2020 COVID-19 Epidemic.
This situation has also highlighted the essential role textiles plays in our lives and the need to ensure the subject is not overlooked in schools and by the Government. Not being an EBACC subject and there no longer being a dedicated GCSE, has meant textiles has been on the decline in schools. Yet here we are reaching out for skills and materials so desperately needed.
The other point to notice is the need for manufacturing back on home shores where overseas manufacturing has been unable to match the demand, the speed and standards required. 150,000 PPE are being used every day in the UK and the ‘Scrub Hubs’ are helping to stop the gap created by inadequate stocks from overseas that have failed NHS standards or not being produced fast enough.
‘Scrub hubs’ have been set up in schools and homes and there have been some fantastic stories reported in the local press. The WGHS Scrub Hub was launched at Wakefield Girls’ High School in response to demand for critical personal protective equipment to keep NHS workers safe during the coronavirus. Four teachers of DT, Textiles and Languages – Elizabeth Maher, Natalie Phillips, Emma Critch and Sandy George came together to put their skills to valuable use, making scrubs for frontline workers at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.
Two textile teachers from Bromsgrove, Julie Pask, a retired textile teacher from Catshill Middle School and Liz Dane, from Bishop Challoner Catholic College, are part of the national efforts to supply nurses with extra hospital scrubs during the coronavirus outbreak – with their work described as ‘touching’ by a frontline nurse.
Due to the highly infectious nature of the Covid-19 illness, nurses are changing their uniform up to seven times a shift, creating a high demand for more scrubs. The first lots of scrubs were delivered to Worcestershire Royal Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital to the COVID wards.
Cerys Gasson, Textile teacher at Hayesfield Bassett school in Bath, set up a local Scrub Hub to support staff at Royal United Hospital and surrounding Surgeries, Care Homes and Carers. At time of writing, they have raised over £3000 for fabric through a fundraiser to produce the scrubs, hats, headbands and laundry bags of which they had already made 1500 laundry bags.
Claire Dempsey, Textile teacher at Kingsley School, Leamington has been busy helping as the Stratford coordinator of Warwickshire Scrubbers, supplying sewers with pre-cut sets, fabric and patterns to make scrubs, scrub caps, headbands and laundry bags, and distributing them to hospital teams across Warwickshire.
Tamsin Mitchell, Head of D&T at Glebelands School in Cranleigh, Surrey, started a spreadsheet to collate data from teachers making scrubs in their schools and communities. Of those that have completed the spreadsheet, the data revealed that 95 schools across the UK were actively taking part, making to date:
Scrub Bags: 3776
Scrub Tops: 35
Scrub Sets: 667
Tamsin has also done more than her bit, by setting up NHS Sewing Cranleigh and Dorking to mobilise sewing enthusiasts and the group’s 65 members have been producing items for St Joseph’s Specialist School and College and more than half a dozen other organisations, including care homes and medical practices.
Textile teachers across the UK should be proud of their achievement and we need to remind schools and the Government of their contribution and absolute vital role their subject is to the life learning of the young – Please rethink your strategy with EBACC and reinstate our useful and necessary subject into the curriculum.