‘Harrogate Scrubbers’ roll up their sleeves to help local hospital

Teacher Fran Taylor

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and dire shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), a maths teacher decided to thread up her sewing machine and called out for people to assist with making much-needed scrubs for NHS staff in Yorkshire.

Fran Taylor launched her response to the national shortage of scrubs via a Facebook group aptly named ‘Harrogate Scrubbers’. She raised an impressive £4,500 in the first 24hrs, and over £12,500 at the time of publishing this article.

Over 200 people, and a number of upholstery and stitching businesses have committed to making 700 scrubs for staff working in the Harrogate area to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Fran, who has taught at St John Fishers High School for over ten years launched the group in conjunction with Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT), which operates Harrogate District Hospital. Liaising with their staff she agreed to produce scrubs, laundry bags, scrub caps and waterproof gowns.

Fran says: “The community response has been genuinely humbling, with offers of help from people stuck at home, community groups, local companies and professional sewing groups.

“It has created a team atmosphere and real community spirit, actually giving people a purpose and the ability to feel that they are supporting the NHS both through staying at home, but also doing something productive while they are there.”

She adds that people who cannot sew are being deployed to deliver the fabric and patterns to the homes of the people who can help out.

“We’re on the lookout for more people who can help cut the huge rolls of fabric in spaces like village halls, volunteers to cover the admin behind the deliveries, and we need supplies donating and money raising.”

According to Fran anyone can volunteer, you don’t have to be a professional dressmaker

“We have furloughed opticians and retired former NHS workers who are sewing from their homes and producing quality items that will save lives. 

“We also have a huge army of volunteer drivers who are so grateful to have a purpose and help other people out; this really is a celebration of people coming together and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”

The handover of the scrubs produced by the Harrogate Scrubbers

HDFT’s Chief Operating Officer and Accountable Emergency Officer, Robert Harrison, said: ‘We are overwhelmed by the public response to supporting both the NHS and our local hospital and staff.

“The ability to change out of work clothes, wash everything at 60 degrees and avoid any cross contamination is becoming increasingly important as the number of patients in hospitals grow.

“Community initiatives like this are very welcome, as there simply aren’t enough supplies to cover all staff. We are very grateful for the support of members of the public – thank you to the wonderful local community for your support for the NHS.”

Just £27 will sponsor three full sets of scrubs plus a laundry bag for a hospital worker which will allow them to protect themselves whilst they are working to fight Covid-19. To donate, visit: https://tinyurl.com/harrogatescrubbers and to join the Facebook group please go to www.facebook.com/groups/harrogatescrubbers

Roles and items still needed

  • People who can sew both scrubs and bags to put them in
  • People able to deliver and collect the fabric and scrubs
  • Donations of money to help buy the fabric and accessories
  • Donations of plain lightweight polycotton fabric or new sheets
  • Volunteers to cut the fabric into packs and prepare them
  • Printers to print the patterns to go in the packs

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