Committed volunteers raise £10,000 and make 1,500 scrubs for healthcare workers in Wigan

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A dedicated army of seamstresses are making their final sets of scrubs for healthcare workers on the frontline.

The hard-working volunteers at Wigan Scrub Hub will have completed 1,500 sets of protective clothing by next week and delivered them to people dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

After several weeks of hard work, the project will begin winding down so the seamstresses can start to return to their businesses, after changes to the lockdown restrictions were announced by the Prime Minister.

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Charlotte Mack, who leads the team, said: “We have got about 50 orders left to go out, which we are aiming to get out by the middle of next week.

Volunteers hard at work making scrubsVolunteers hard at work making scrubs
Volunteers hard at work making scrubs

“They have gone to Rainbow ward at Wigan Infirmary, to the Covid unit at Wrightington Hospital, to different GP surgeries and lots of care homes as well.

“We are getting the last 50 out and what we have left will be a few hundred to give straight to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh, who will give them to the Covid staff on the Wigan and Wrightington sites.”

Charlotte, who grew up in Standish and now lives in Salford, is a fabric and textiles teacher at a high school in Cheshire and wanted to do something to help.

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Scrubs were desperately needed, as the NHS has more people on the frontline and staff do not always have time to wash their clothing between long shifts.

Medical staff wearing the scrubsMedical staff wearing the scrubs
Medical staff wearing the scrubs

So she set up a fund-raising appeal online in a bid to raise £250 to buy the material she would need to make them.

But the scheme soon snowballed, with a massive £10,000 given in total, including a donation by Williams Formula One team.

Scores of volunteers came forward to help make the scrubs, including seamstresses who were furloughed due to the pandemic, and drivers have helped to deliver the material and scrubs.

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Charlotte said: “We have had about 140 people involved altogether. It’s incredible. It has been a pretty mental month and a half. The help has been incredible.

“Wigan Bike Club has had 35 people delivering, they have been really organised. We have had all the seamstresses as well and the Wigan and Leigh College fashion department have helped. It has been everyone and anyone.”

Charlotte, 28, had no idea the project would grow so quickly.

Wigan Scrub Hub even caught the attention of the makers of a BBC documentary featuring Stacey Dooley named Lockdown Heroes, who asked Charlotte and her team to get involved.

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Charlotte said: “We filmed our day-to-day lives for three days at the scrub hub and they put it all together.

“I thought they put it across really well. They wanted us to do interviews with Stacey and I wanted to make it clear that it was a whole town effort. They put shots of the seamstresses sewing and it showed how Wigan has come together and helped out with the cause.”

The show is expected to be broadcast on BBC1 in coming weeks and can already be watched via the BBC iPlayer.

Charlotte has received many messages from healthcare workers delighted to receive the scrubs as they care for patients, but believes it has had an even wider impact.

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She said: “As much as the importance of the scrubs was in protecting them and that was the purpose, I think what really got to a lot of people was the fact people were doing it voluntarily to help them. The amount of effort and will that people were going to to look after them really made a difference to them.

“As for the people sewing, particularly those who were isolated at home alone, I think it really made a difference because it gave them a purpose. I think in this time everyone needed a purpose - it certainly gave me a purpose.

“I think for some people it was unbelievable. There were seamstresses receiving 10 or 15 sets and phoning two days later to say they were done. The turnaround was amazing.”

The success of Wigan Scrub Hub has delighted Charlotte, who said she was “the proudest I have ever been”.

And she paid tribute to everyone who got involved.

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“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated, everyone who got involved and offered to delivery drive and sew, people who did more of the organisation for us, everyone who helped in any shape or form,” she said.

To find out more, search for Wigan Scrub Hub on Facebook.

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