The Forces Scrub Hub was started by army spouse Kelly Pollard, team leader at the Sandhurst Military Coworking Hub; an initiative set-up to support military spouses working from home.
With many members of the hub furloughed, or finding their businesses slowing down due to COVID-19, Kelly (pictured below) decided to temporarily convert the group into the ‘Forces Scrub Hub at RMAS’.
Wanting to help
Kelly, who set up her own embroidery business in 2017, explains: “When the lockdown started, we obviously had to stop using the hub. I was finding that my business was quieter than usual and I was looking for a way that I could use my skills to help. I saw on Facebook that Scrubs Glorious Scrubs was doing an amazing job of getting people to sew scrubs for Frimley Park Hospital and realised that the medics on the camp at Sandhurst were probably facing the same problem. I approached the station to ask if we could use the hub to make scrubs for the army medics and they said yes.”
In just two weeks the Forces Scrub Hub grew to a team of 250 cutters, sewers, washers and drivers; all pulling together to produce scrubs, hats, visors, and scrub bags.
RMAS is home to Robertson House, where newly-qualified doctors go to complete the army phase of their training, and many medics working at Frimley Park Hospital, where there has long been a close relationship between the MOD and the NHS. With the new regulations meaning that doctors can no longer wear their regular clothes, and are required to wash scrubs after every shift, military medics have faced the same worries about scrubs shortages as other healthcare professionals. The items made by the team are designed so that everything can be removed at the end of the shift, put straight into a bag and into the washing machine to reduce the risk of contamination at home.
“Initially we started out with just five sewers and five cutters, but the project really captured the attention of people in the community, both military and civilian. It’s been overwhelming,” says Kelly. “We started by asking people to donate old bedsheets and covers that could be washed at 60 degrees, but we’ve also received two substantial donations from Scrubs Glorious Scrubs, a national sewing project supported by Noah Evans, son of TV and radio legend Chris Evans, who camped out in his back garden to help contribute to the nation’s fundraising efforts, which have topped £1.2million.”
“Some of our volunteers are still finding their own materials and have used all sorts of fun and imaginative patterns and designs from camo to Disney princesses and Peter Rabbit,” explains Kelly.
The response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive, with one sewing volunteer commenting: “It’s been an amazing team effort – thank you for letting me be part of this. I cannot tell you how much making these scrubs has helped me to pass my time in this current crisis; time is flying by!” An active Facebook group means Kelly can co-ordinate everyone from cutters to sewers and delivery drivers to take the scrubs to the hospital. “A local shop in Sandhurst, Audrey Meek from TC Tech Repairs, has also kindly allowed us to use the shop as our community hub for people to drop-off and pick-up materials and scrubs which has been really helpful,” says Kelly.
“The Military Coworking Hub is all about bringing people together and helping military spouses overcome social isolation. This has enabled us to keep that community spirit alive. So many people have told us that it has given them a real sense of purpose and something to focus on whilst in lockdown, and made people feel like they are not powerless; they can do something that really helps their local community fight this battle,” she adds.
The project has also been supported by Tom Baker at Snow Windows, who has given the shop window a scrub hub theme, and Dave Richardson, who has produced more than 100 visors on his 3D printer for the team of volunteers to use while driving around collecting and delivering.
“At this point, we don’t know how long we’ll be needed for and how big the group will grow, but as long as the medics need new scrubs we’ll keep sewing,” concludes Kelly.
To find out more, visit facebook.com/ForcesScrubHub