Meet the Liverpool Mum leading a team of sewists to provide scrubs for NHS staff - The Guide Liverpool

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Meet the Liverpool Mum leading a team of sewists to provide scrubs for NHS staff


Liverpool mum Karen Canty is leading teams of ‘sewists’ providing scrubs and scrub hats for hospitals across the city.

Karen reckons that she and her teams have already created more than 50 sets of scrubs, scrub hats and scrub bags for Aintree and Walton Neurological Trust.

And now she has rallied more machinests and organisers to create hundreds more for them and other hospitals across Liverpool.

“I’ve never been very good at sitting on my bum and doing nothing,” says Karen, 54, from Allerton. “I couldn’t sit back and do nothing, that’s just how I am.

“So when I saw a call for people to sew scrubs I put myself forward and it’s gone on from there.

“It’s great now that we are getting more offers of help so we can hopefully make a difference and enable the people who are doing such a brilliant job looking after our loved ones, to do it safely.”

Karen, who has three grown up children and two longterm foster children with autism, first stirred into action after seeing a Facebook post from a Midlands nurse, Ashleigh Linsdell.

Karen explains: “She told how they were running out of scrubs as the coronavirus took hold and the World Health Organisation had issued new guidelines for infection control which meant scrubs needed changing more often and they were running out pretty quickly.

“She started to put kits together for friends and family and then issued an appeal for help on Facebook with the name For the Love of Scrubs.”

As the needs grew along with the number of groups, more people answered the call for help – including Karen.

“I normally just sew for myself and the kids but I started to sew for FTLOS, and as new groups began it became on big community with 30-40,000 members. But the response was slow because only two people were co-ordinating it so we all said we would recreate what had been started and set up our own scrub groups; to get more help out there, more quickly.

“My son works in the virology labs and my daughter-in-law is a mental health nurse so I knew they were all struggling to get scrubs and how many more were needed locally.”

Karen took control of sewists – ‘that’s what I call them’ – creating the necessary equipment for Aintree and Walton Neurological Trust, and now others are looking after the Royal and Broadgreen, and the Women’s and Alder Hey.

“We are raising money for fabric, recruiting machinists and recruiting drivers to deliver them when they’re done,” adds Karen.

“Some people can cut and sew, others want pre-cut scrubs to stitch so we are organising cutters. So far around 800-900 metres of fabric have gone out to be cut and sewn. The Dressing Room in Wigan has got about 100 metres of fabric to sew larger sizes. The sewists provide their own thread and we provide elastic.

“When scrub sets are completed, we pick them up and I leave them for about a day or so before giving them to my neighbour who is a consultant radiologist who takes them in for distribution – for me at least.”

Karen has had to pay money up front for fabric which she hopes to eventually get back, and is raising funds for more, along with the other groups.

She has set up a well-oiled volunteer machine, conscientiously creating the much-needed scrubs for medical staff across the city: she has about 80 people sewing for her, with 200 in total.

“I am a foster carer now but I used to work for the city council and the Citizens Advice Bureau in welfare rights, so I am used to helping,” she says, “and, having an autistic child myself and two foster children with autism, I am used to being organised.

“But it’s great that people are coming together to help. We have people whose nans have died from Covid-19 and people whose husbands are in hospital being treated now. They say how it is helping them to deal with this situation – and I know it’s helping me.

“When all this started I was really anxious, but my anxiety has gone right down since I began helping and doing this. Doing something positive really helps and it’s making a difference, providing much-needed equipment for the medical staff in the NHS who are doing so much for us all right now.”

Aintree Trust and Walton Neuro – For The Love of Scrubs – Our NHS Needs You

The Liverpool Royal: For The Love Of Scrubs – Our NHS Needs You

For the Love of Scrubs: Liverpool Women’s and Alder Hey Hospitals

Get all of the latest news for Liverpool and beyond here.

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