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Adapting skills to support the NHS.

Over the last few weeks it has been difficult for many businesses under the government guidelines for people to stay at home in the effort to contain Covid-19.

With the NHS and other healthcare services struggling to manage with PPE quantities we are thrilled to see Campaign for Wool supporters adapting and using their skill base and suppliers to make additional equipment required in the relief effort.

Community Clothing founded by Patrick Grant has begun making its first NHS scrubs coming off the line at the Cookson & Clegg factory in Blackburn, using specialist fabric from Pincroft in Chorley, another Community Clothing partner factory.

“I am incredibly proud of all of the staff involved in what has been a monumental effort. Technical specifications arrived at 10am Tuesday, patterns were cut out and samples were made by Tuesday night, samples were inspected and approved by NHS supplier Alsico in Preston at 10am on Wednesday, bulk fabric was forklifted off the lorry at 3pm Wednesday, and went straight into the cutting room. The first 700 pairs went onto the sewing line at 2pm on Thursday afternoon and the first pieces reached the end of the line by 4pm Friday. Three days for a process that would normally take about 3 months, and all achieved under incredibly strict new working practices, at a time of great personal anxiety to many.

This crisis is terrible, but if any good can come of it perhaps it might be that it brings home to us, in a way that perhaps nothing else could have, that people who know how to make things are of vital importance, that they deserve our absolute respect, and they deserve to be valued.” Patrick Grant.

Marks & Spencer are supporting the communities they serve, particularly their most vulnerable members. In addition to delivering to these customers, Marks & Spencer staff have been coming up with more ideas on how they can support the people leading the fight against Covid-19 in the NHS.

Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks & Spencer “It’s been truly humbling to read the suggestions that have been pouring in from staff and customers alike with ideas for how we can help those on the NHS frontline. Colleagues have been supporting those on the frontline by providing food donations to local hospitals, and we’ve been helping with initiatives such as special hours for NHS and emergency-service workers. So we’ve been working out how we can help and been talking to the NHS. And we’ve focused on what we do best – providing M&S food and clothes – in the hope we can make it just a little easier for our hard-working NHS teams to keep doing what they do best: looking after us all and saving lives. We really are all in this together, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to turn some of those ideas into action. Here are just some of the things we’re doing.
We’re donating –
Clothing – Thousands of specially branded “We are the NHS” T-shirts to form part of the uniform pack for the NHS Nightingale frontline team.

Free clothing care packs containing a T-shirt, jumper, joggers, knickers or
boxers and socks for patients discharged from NHS Nightingale London.

Over 4,000 pyjamas to be used as scrubs to NHS Derbyshire, located close
to our Castle Donington distribution centre.

Food – We’ll deliver nearly 5,000 prepared meals, sandwiches and treats to NHS
workers at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and Great Ormond Street
Hospital every week for the next two months.”


Image credit: The NHS Nightingale T-shirts being printed in Leeds

On 1 April the Cornwall Scrubs group was created by former Finisterre team member Annie Lucas, to help support the national campaign #FORTHELOVEOFSCRUBS producing scrubs, surgical caps and other PPE for frontline NHS staff. In just 24 hours the group had over 500 volunteers and with more than 1100 people committed their support. Finisterre supported with a donation of over 500 metres of fabric.

In these challenging times it is truly heartening to see the strength and kindness of a community shining through. In just over a week, Cornwall Scrubs has brought together a veritable army of crafters and needle-workers to lend their skills to this worthy cause – and volunteers are still signing up. Annie Lucas, who set up the Cornish arm of this nationwide effort, worked in Finisterre’s repairs department back in 2012 and 2014. She is now leading a small team of project coordinators, including Finisterre’s very own Adele Gingell, who have worked tirelessly alongside their day-jobs to set up systems, source fabrics, web design, fundraise, and manage the 900+ volunteers who are now processing over 400 PPE requests. That small team has worked wonders and, with such a strong sense of community embedded in Finisterre, several members of the Finisterre team have jumped into action to answer their call for support. Ali Goodman has been a huge part of the project. A member of the Finisterre Lived & Loved Repairs team, she is also the owner of Francil Craftwear and has set up a production line in her studio near Penryn. She’s designed a simple pattern to help make portage bags, requiring minimal equipment and making it as simple as possible for volunteers to use. She has also been cutting fabric and making up kits to be sent out to volunteers across the county, using donated Finisterre fabric and polybags. This speeds up the process, making it easier for volunteers and getting them the fabric they need to start work. “The wave of support from all the people involved has been astonishing, and I couldn’t have done this without an amazing core team of volunteers. It’s so nice to do something positive.” – Annie Lucas. The project is still welcoming volunteers and you don’t even need to be able to sew to lend a hand. Visit the Cornwall Scrubs Facebook page for more information on how to volunteer or donate.


McNair based in Slaithwaite are makers of wool outdoor and snowboarding shirts that protect people against the winter elements. Last week they were prototyping a protective gown that was approved by their local Hospital, Huddersfield & Calderdale Trust and McNair have purchased 13,500m2 of fabric to begin making these.

“It’s been a rollercoaster week with our first gown for the NHS. Unfortunately it’s not been possible to get a full specification so we have come with this as a first attempt. It’s heading this evening to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for their initial feed-back and fingers crossed with a few modifications it will fit the bill and can be approved.” McNair Shirts


Brooke Dennis founder of Make Town a Hackney based textile and maker space that usually run workshops to learn new skills such as knitting, weaving, pattern cutting and sewing has joined a local sewing community Scrub Hub to sew additional scrubs required for the NHS.

“Earlier this week I met (via screen) some dudes needing an extra hand making and distributing scrubs to our local hero’s of the #nhs. This morning parcels will be picked up by local sewers, taken home and sewn, returned on Monday and delivered to those requesting a spare set of scrubs. They say #teamworkmakesthedreamwork and I am so stoked to have the sewing community in my team. Check online to get involved!!” Make Town.



Ashmei offered all front-line NHS workers a free pair of Merino wool socks as a small thank you for their tireless work which resulted in sending hundreds of pairs of socks to key workers across the UK,
They also reached out to ask customers to purchase a pair of socks for an NHS worker and they would match that with a donation of another pair, which had an overwhelming response. “Thank you so much for the overwhelming response to our NHS give away.”

Allbirds wanted to thank the US healthcare community for working on the front lines and helping to keep communities healthy. “We appreciate and admire everything you are doing. We hope a pair of Tuke Matcha Wool Runners on us might be a small token of our appreciation. Thank you.”


Drapers Online reported recently how Fashion suppliers’ were focussing on the NHS rescue mission, highlighting a range of companies listed in their ‘Protection brigade: fashion switches to healthcare’:
Burberry Retooling its Yorkshire factory and promising 100,000 masks to the NHS
H&M Group Pledged to ask all of its 750 suppliers to produce PPE and masks
Reformation Partnering with the City of Los Angeles to make 5 million masks at its LA factory
Wolford Assisting to produce 200,000 masks from its Vienna factory
Chanel Plans for all factories to produce surgical face masks, pending approval from the French government
LVMH Secured up to 40 million medical or surgical grade face masks from Chinese suppliers – to be provided to the French healthcare system.
Kering Supplying 3 million surgical masks to France, and retooling brand factories to manufacture more
Uniqlo Parent company Fast Company will supply 10 million across Italy, the US and Japan

Read full article HERE

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