Scrubbing up

Xenia, one of the volunteers for the 'Southgate NHS Scrubs Bags' community group
Xenia, one of the volunteers for the ‘Southgate NHS Scrubs Bags’ community group

Ros Lucas has been volunteering with a community sewing group in Southgate to help NHS workers during the pandemic

It was in April that Lesley asked – via the Nextdoor website – for volunteers to make scrub bags, so that all NHS staff and carers in the community had something to carry their scrubs and gowns in.

A WhatsApp group was set up by Sylvana who volunteered herself as an administrator, as well as a delivery courier, together with her daughter Ellie-Rose who, as a beginner, quickly became adept at using a sewing machine. Xenia, an ex-student of a teacher who was volunteering, proved to be an excellent motivator and the most productive crafter of bags and face masks – she even started making some for local pharmacies and others who requested them.

Our group grew in number to 19 listed volunteers, ranging in age from 14 to more than 80 years old, with offers of materials, sewing and delivering,. Material was also very generously donated to us from a local clothing manufacturer, Fosby of London. Other material came with a great deal of sentimental value – one lady donated bedsheets made by her late father. Another donated the material used to wrap a last gift given from a loved one, bringing her comfort in knowing it would be used as a scrubs bag for the NHS.

As materials ran short for a while, one of our volunteers, a supporter of Saracens Rugby Club, persuaded the club to donate one thousand surplus flags! This sped up our output because the seams on the flags were already finished. There have been other problems to overcome – broken sewing needles or other issues, for which the more experienced people in the group have found solutions. We have also expanded to make other items such as masks and scrubs themselves.

With well over 1,000 bags having now been delivered, letters of thanks from those who received them have been very pleasing and the whole group continues to be supportive of each other, even those who, for one reason or another, have had to stop. Overall it has been a fantastic example of neighbours in the community coming together to achieve something special.