Volunteer group to make protective clothing for key workers

Northumberland businesses have joined forces with a charity and volunteers to make desperately needed personal protective equipment for local health workers.

The group is led by Kate Dawson, founder of Ashington-based The All-in-One Company, and is part of a growing network of Scrub Hubs which have been set up around the country to harness the skills of professional and hobby clothes makers.Kate Dawson - founder of The All-in-One Company

She has gathered together a team of more than 20 machinists, including some of her employees as well as volunteers from Age UK Northumberland, and is working closely with another local business – Bean Bag Bazaar in Cramlington.

“But we urgently need more volunteers and donations,” said Kate.  “A hundred metres of fabric costs around £120 and makes about 30 sets of scrubs.” Donations pay for material and petrol money for deliveries.  All the rest of the work is done for free.

Kate contacted the government in the early stages of the crisis when reports began emerging about a shortage of equipment to protect front line workers.

“I had to fill in a form which was sent to the Cabinet Office, but I heard absolutely nothing. So you’re sat there thinking you want to help and hearing on the news that people are dying left, right and centre because they haven’t got protection. It was really frustrating when we have a factory full of sewing machines and incredibly experienced and capable staff,” she said.

She has still not received a response, but in the meantime has answered a rallying call from Kate Hills, the founder of Make it British which supports and promotes the UK’s manufacturing businesses.

With her help, alongside advice from David Reay at the Northern Clothing and Textile Network and a large delivery of fabric from one of The All-in-One Company’s suppliers, Scrub Hub Ashington is now up and running. It is the sixth Scrub Hub group in the North East.  There are more than a 100 in the UK.

Kate believes the current team is capable of making around 100 sets of scrubs per week, and many more if additional volunteers come forward.

She says the experience of setting up The All-in-One Company from scratch in 2008 has helped her create a simple but efficient production model.

“I will take the patterns and fabric to Bean Bag Bazaar for cutting, collect them up and drop them off at our volunteers for sewing. Then pick up the finished scrubs and deliver to the people who need them,” she said.

“I’m so proud of everybody who is taking part and relieved that at last we can do something to help.”

Amy Whyte, head of charitable services at Age UK Northumberland said: “Through the use of Age UK Northumberland’s social media and our extensive contacts across the region we have been actively supporting Scrub Hub Ashington, finding volunteers to make much needed PPE with the support of The All-in-One Company.

“There are so many worthy causes for any PPE that can be made and/or donated. The NHS, who are doing a wonderful job, obviously has an immediate need. So do our carers who are out and about in the communities of the county, supporting older people remain safely in their own homes.

“We are delighted that Scrub Hub Ashington has been set up and that we will be one of the beneficiaries. This will allow our carers to deliver our much needed care, continuing to take all the necessary steps to keep themselves and our clients healthy.”

If you are and NHS or care worker and you need scrubs, please order them by e-mailing scrubsashington@gmail.com

If you are professional or proficient sewer and would like to volunteer to help, contact Facebook Page

And if you would like to make a donation to Scrub Hub Ashington, visit Go Fund Me