Volunteer groups make and deliver 500 hand-sewn masks for hospice staff

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Treetops Hospice Care in Derbyshire has received a donation of 500 hand-sewn face masks, created and delivered by local voluntary groups.

Volunteers with Shelagh’s Sewing Circle created the masks. The group was started by Shelagh Cheetham when the government announced the nationwide lockdown. Shelagh was concerned for essential key workers who would have to continue to work during the pandemic, as well as vulnerable staff and residents in care homes, many of whom were struggling to procure basic PPE.

“I decided to start locally and called a care home to see if they would like me to make them some face masks. They were very receptive, so I shortlisted a selection of mask designs and made a couple of prototypes of each. I discussed these with local GPs and health professionals, and without exception they all chose the design which we have used for 15 weeks now, it fits well and is made of three layers of cotton, cotton/polyester mix fabric.

“I made up the order for the care home and when I quickly got another, I realised I needed help and asked my local community. And so Shelagh’s Sewing Circle came to be!”

The Sewing Circle now has over 180 volunteers based across North East Derbyshire who sew the masks, and the group have donated over 32,000 of them since starting the initiative.

“We have retired people, furloughed workers, professional and hobby sewists, homemakers, and working people from all sorts of jobs. They are all united in their desire to help their community and those working on the frontline.

“We have sent masks all over the country, to every kind of organisation that employs key workers –from care homes to hospitals, to schools that have stayed open for key worker children, charities and food banks.

“Each mask from cutting out patterns to steaming and bagging takes about 25 minutes, so it is quite an investment of time from every volunteer. We have calculated the total time spent by all our volunteers over the last 15 weeks to be 13,184 hours and this number goes up every week.”

In a message of support to Treetops Hospice Car Shelagh said: “On behalf of all our volunteers, sewers, cutters, admin team, collectors and delivery drivers, a huge thank you for what you have done and continue to do, for the patients and families you support.

“It is such an important job and we are happy to have been able to help to each and every member of staff in our small way. Take care, stay safe and wear your mask with pride, protecting others and yourself.”

The sewing group’s donation was biked over to Treetops by another group of volunteers: Volunteer Riders UK, who distribute PPE to frontline workers.

Steve Jackson, 53, signed up to Volunteer Riders UK when he was furloughed from his usual sales job at the start of lockdown.  “I’ve probably done a dozen or more jobs now, mainly picking up from Shelagh’s Sewing Circle” he said.  “I’ve done drop-offs around Derbyshire to care homes or the NHS and I’ve also been part of a relay. I feel like this is my way of giving something back during lockdown.”

Cheryl Morris, deputy local relationships manager at Treetops, took delivery of the masks. “We want to say a huge thanks from Treetops to everyone who’s made the beautiful face masks from Shelagh’s Sewing Circle as well as Steve and Volunteer Riders UK – without whom we wouldn’t have received them” she said.

“We’ll be passing these to our staff across the hospice in the coming days. They’ll be very well received just in time for the new legislation regarding wearing face masks in shops.”

For more information visit Treetops Hospice Care