Coronavirus: NI army of volunteers sew thousands of scrubs

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI Health Correspondent

  • Published
NI Scrubs has been making scrubs for front-line coronavirus workersImage source, NI Scrubs
Image caption,
The scrubs, proudly modelled by front-line workers

“It is heart-warming, it’s our small way of doing something and it makes us feel that we are helping.”

Clara Maybin is part of a production line made up of hundreds of people across Northern Ireland who are making scrubs for healthcare workers.

They are called NI Scrubs and within three weeks, they have made thousands of medical uniforms.

“It’s hectic, too, but we are finding our feet," she says.

"We now have a system and a structure that we needed in order to fulfil the demand."

Image source, NI Scrubs
Image caption,
Here's one in grey

It started when her husband’s aunt who works in a Covid-19 centre said they would soon need more scrubs.

A Facebook page was set up and the orders started pouring in.

'Blue light delivery'

“At the moment we have orders in Belfast totalling over 4,000," she says.

"Then, Omagh and Fermanagh requiring 800; Dungannon needs 400; Lurgan is 1,200 and Newry 400."

The scrubs are destined for care homes, GP surgeries, Covid-testing centres and, she says, there are even some orders from within the health trusts.

"People are telling us there simply isn’t enough around. It is the least we can do,” she adds.

Sewing teams meet twice a week at various locations across Northern Ireland.

Image source, NI Scrubs
Image caption,
All sewn up and ready for use

Clara’s meeting point is a car park in County Tyrone.

“The first week a cop turned on his blue light and we all thought we were about to be arrested," she says.

"But he was there as his wife is a seamstress and he was delivering what she had made.

“Some sew, others cut while we have drivers who deliver. I do the spreadsheets – we have become very organised – we had to as we are now a huge production line.

"We abide by the social distancing rules while standing in the car park. ”

'More demanding than a baby'

The teams have done their homework and use poly cotton material.

They take measurements because, as in life, not one size fits all.

Image source, NI Scrubs
Image caption,
The orders just keep on rolling in for NI Scrubs

Clara says the generosity of people is "simply incredible".

“They are generous with their time, their own funds and it has brought strangers together," she says.

"It’s more demanding though than a baby – at least a baby sleeps.

"This is non-stop, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.“