A group of volunteers sewing protective face masks for care home staff and key workers in Norfolk is asking for more help with sewing and deliveries.
The group was started by Norwich seamstress Libby and her 12-year-old daughter India, who answered a plea on Facebook for 60 face masks.
There are now 17 members of the group, donating their time, skills and materials to help tackle shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus crisis.
Together they have sewn 400 face masks and 50 laundry bags which have been delivered to care home staff and key workers across the county – as well as 500 ear-savers, which have been crocheted by group member Charlie.
Libby runs her own upcycling business called The Way Of Tea, making sustainable clothes and home textiles.
After seeing the Facebook plea, she designed a three-layered mask, with a cotton lining, an inner layer of non-woven fabric and a water-repellent polyester outer layer.
The design is based on BMJ Open research which showed that non-woven fabric and polyester layers reduce the spread of micro-organisms in water droplets far more effectively than cotton.
Libby and India stitched 60 masks in two-and-a-half days for Dussindale Park care home in Norwich.
They have now been joined by 15 other volunteers, who are sewing masks, crocheting ear-savers and making deliveries – but more help is desperately needed.
Libby said: “We’ve donated masks, ear-savers and laundry bags to care home staff, teachers, community nurses, vulnerable members of the public and key workers.
“We will make masks for anyone in a vulnerable situation who needs them, as far as our resources will allow.
“We have been inundated with generous donations of bedsheets, polyester clothing, tents, sleeping bags and elastic to help us in our mission. Donations of materials from the community have been incredible.”
However, the non-woven fabric is difficult to source and expensive, because of high demand, so the volunteers are using their own money or funds donated by relatives to buy the material.
One volunteer driver, Andrew, who runs ESP Merchandise, has set up a GoFundMe page to help purchase the essential fabric.
Other drivers include Thomas – who owns Ronaldo Ices in Norwich – and Catherine, who works for a carers’ organisation.
Sewers include Ida – who found out that laundry bags needed, so care home staff can safely change out of their uniform – and Anita, who succeeded in her mission to sew 80 bags just before reaching her 80th birthday.
To donate via GoFundMe page for non-woven fabrics and elastic see:
To get involved, contact the group via WhatsApp at https://chat.whatsapp.com/LFfqkBdC3AaJhqCronqZsk or leave a message for Catherine on 01603 614941.
To see how to make a mask, visit Libby’s website here: