Now that we’re 12 weeks into lockdown, it can be hard to imagine a life before COVID-19.
A time before self isolation, social distancing, 20-second hand washing and two metre rules. A time when popping round for a brew at your Grandparents’ house, or having a few drinks in the pub with your mates on a Saturday night was the norm. A time when supermarket aisles didn’t have one-way systems and wearing facemasks on public transport would never have entered our heads.
There’s no denying it’s brought a new way of life, but it’s one we’ve adapted to as the months have gone on.
When we cast our minds back to these unprecedented times in years to come, not only will the triumphant work of our NHS health heroes, critical carers and key workers have a place etched in our hearts, but we’ll also remember the importance of community.
Yes, the pandemic may have altered every aspect of the reality we once knew, but community spirit is stronger than ever and this collective of sewers from Stockport is showing the power of pulling together at crucial times.
Meet the Stockport Sewing Collective.
A community-lead project of seven local sewing groups, or ‘scrubbers’, dotted in and around the South Manchester borough with over 100 contributing members, sewers and volunteers. Together, this team of hard-working individuals have gone on to generously make and provide thousands of scrubs to those in need across Greater Manchester and the North West since the crisis hit hard back in March.
From trousers, tunics and facemasks, to scrubs bags, gowns, hats and headbands, the collective has been using this new-found time on their hands during lockdown to offer vital support to an industry that so desperately requires it.
Either via donations, or by tailor-made orders, the Stockport Sewing Collective and each local sewing group has provided scrubs for individuals, care/nursing homes, health centres, GP practices, dentist surgeries, prisons and hospitals including North Manchester General, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Salford Royal Hospital, Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Hospital.
One of the largest-contributing groups of the collective is the High Lane Scrubbers – a 35-strong team of sewers and volunteers of all ages. Lead by Sara Armstrong, a currently furloughed Project Engagement Officer at the National Trust, this group alone have made 236 scrubs sets during lockdown.
Sara started the High Lane Scrubbers as a response to her local community.
Speaking to The Manc about why the Stockport Sewing Collective is so special, Sara said: “What makes us unique is that we are community based, but working as a large ‘team’, which allows us to provide to both individual NHS workers and [then also] with the ability to fulfil large orders for hospitals across Manchester.”
“It also means we have been able to tap into our communities and ask for donations of fabric [either] pre-loved (like children’s duvets), new fabric bought by supporters and donated fabric from companies”.
“We’ve received donations of masses of thread, buttons, elastic and cord for waist tape and scrub bags”.
“Without these donations from people of all ages in our communities, we could not have provided as we have for the past few months for the NHS and care givers.”
She continued: “It’s really important to acknowledge that the volunteer sewers have been supported by a [wider] team”.
“Drivers who have done pickups and deliveries to hospitals, surgeries and individual NHS staff across Greater Manchester, pattern cutters, and also family members who helped at home during lockdown to wash and prep the fabric for sewing.”
How brilliant is this?
After 12 weeks of exemplary hard work, the Stockport Sewing Collective accepted their final orders for scrubs last Friday. They will now continue to allocate stock and donate leftover fabric to worthy causes across Greater Manchester over the next few weeks.
If you would like to keep up to date with the Stockport Sewing Collective, you can find them on Facebook here.
You can also follow the High Lane Scrubbers here.
Orders and allocation requests can be made via dedicated email – firstname.lastname@example.org