Julie Webster, an Art and Textiles teacher, responded to a request for help from Marie Ford, a Matron at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, asking people who can sew to help make cotton bags for NHS staff. The idea was started by Marie’s friend’s mum who created cotton pump bags which nurses could use to transport their uniforms home and place straight into the washing machine, with the uniform still in the bag, to help reduce the risk of infection.
Julie has been utilising contacts across her craft and textiles network to create and coordinate the production of the bags. With the help of a few friends, family, and additional volunteers, they have been able to provide over 400 cotton pump bags to NHS staff. In the last 3 weeks, Julie has delivered approximately 250 laundry bags to Marie for the Birmingham Women’s Hospital Neonatal Unit and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. This week, they have been able to provide a further 130 bags to the new Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham. They have also sent laundry bags to Bridgnorth Medical Practice, Moseley Old Hospital, West Midlands Hospital, Russell’s Hall Hospital, New Cross Hospital, City Hospital, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Marie explained that some of the initial bags were a little too small, so the Delivery Suite Matron suggested that they were used to carry warm care bundles for new parents. These packs provided parents with a hat, cardigan, and blanket, as well as information on how to keep their newborn baby warm.
There is a real sense of community spirit behind the project. Many of the people involved have never met each other, but Julie explained that ‘it has united us all in thinking we can help and support our frontline workers in some way’.
People have dropped or collected material and the finished bags at Marie’s and Julie’s houses, keeping a safe distance. There have been over 5,000 shares of the original Facebook post and people have been getting involved all over the UK, including someone from Hull, and someone as far as Perth in Scotland. The project has also helped provide a sense of purpose for some people who are self-isolating by connecting them remotely through their contribution.
If you can sew and have some material available, such as old pillowcases, you can get involved. The material must be washable at 60 degrees and colour fast. The bag needs to be at least 18 x 15 inches with a cord at the top. It only requires 2 seams. Bags can be dropped at Birmingham Women’s Hospital reception for Marie Ford.
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