Words Amicia de Moubray Photographs Photos supplied by Francesca Baur
The extraordinary circumstances we are all living through have resulted in many new local initiatives. The response of Francesca Baur, who lives in Faversham, has been to sew scrubs for NHS workers. ‘Making isolation gowns is starting to feel as if I have extra people in the house,’ says Francesca,. describing all the isolation gowns hanging in her home.
Francesca is best known to readers of Faversham Life for her company Fable and Base (November 2016) and the wonderful Kent Cloth exhibition (October 2019) she organised in Rochester.
Unable to use her studio during lockdown Francesca took up her needle after seeing the NHS – Scrubs project advertised through the Faversham Repair Cafe’s Facebook page.
The new Repair Café in Faversham, opened in February, is part of a nationwide drive – the Big Fix – to open similar cafes staffed by volunteers across the country. The idea is that people bring items to be repaired such as a hoover or a bike whilst having a chat and a cuppa. Once lockdown ends the Cafe will operate at the Purifier Building on Saturdays once a month and then on Wednesdays the following month (alternating each month).
The project for making NHS scrubs was ‘In response to direct requests from NHS nurses and other staff, including Ambulance Crews for extra sets of clothing and laundry bags,’ says Rosemary De Vos of Coasts for Life, a voluntary non-profit organisation that runs the Café.
‘I wanted to do something to help, particularly as my sister works in the NHS and my daughter is training to be a nurse,’ says Francesca.
Every few days fabric was left on Francesca’s doorstep for her to get sewing and the results subsequently collected from her doorstep.
The extra demand by the front line health workers was because they had to change their garments more frequently to protect themselves, including between patients to help prevent the spread of infection. Once used the garments are put in a secure laundry bag for a ‘hot wash’ overnight.
‘I’ve made scrubs for the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and Lewisham Hospital’ says Francesca.
A staggering 636 individual items have been delivered over the past 5 weeks made by more than 40 makers voluntarily contributing their time to make the laundry bags, hats, scrub sets (tops and trousers). The bulk of the makers were in Faversham, Sittingbourne, Herne Bay with the others spread out in Ashford, Deal, Chestfield and Folkestone.
‘Yesterday I received the most precious parcel I will ever receive,’ says one delighted NHS worker on Facebook.
‘Final deliveries were made on 2 May but due to the makers’ eagerness to continue, there are new projects afoot,’ says Rosemary.