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Sophie Roberts has already made around 80 masks in the past week and she’s got a waiting list for lots more from NHS staff and home help carers for the elderly and vulnerable.
Sophie, who was in year 6 at Lister Juniors before the virus forced schools to close down, is using a stash of materials she’d saved since her birthday in January, and she’s getting donations of fabrics sent to home.
Mum Steph explains: “When Sophie got the machine in January I asked on Facebook if anyone knew someone who could give her lessons, and one of my friends directed us towards Becca who lives in Thornton, who does one-to-one sewing lessons.
“Sophie had a couple of lessons with her, including one we booked as a treat because she’d had such a good parents evening. Then last week, when the lockdown was announced, Becca posted on her social media that she’d been asked for masks and so she’d created a simple tutorial to share.
“As soon as she sent it through Sophie got her sewing machine out and made one straight away, then we just took it from there. Both of my sisters work for the NHS and I sent photos to them, and they shared them with their friends, and it’s really taken off.
“Before this, I’d just been buying a few oddments of fabric, so she already had some and now people have been really generous, making donations by ordering off Amazon and having it delivered to the house so she can carry on.”
Steph stresses that they are careful to use 100% cotton, as recommended, and they make sure they stick to hygiene rules – washing their hands while they sew, disinfecting equipment and delivering without any personal contact.
“When people collect we hang them on a hook outside the house, in a bag, so there’s no contact with anyone at all,” she says.
Since word spread about the kind schoolgirl’s efforts, Steph has been contacted by a district nurse who was down to her last mask, and also a care company, going into elderly people’s homes to look after them, who hadn’t been able to source any masks.
“They said it was impossible to get hold of them and asked if Sophie would be interested in making some for them – we’ve done 34 of an order of 50 already, and we’re doing more each day,” adds Steph.
Since Sophie – who has a nine-year-old brother James and sister Sarah, who’s seven – is no longer able to get together with her friends in class, Steph says the sewing is giving her daughter something positive to focus on.
“She is a caring child anyway, a few years ago she had really long hair and she and her school friend both had their hair cut off into a bob to raise money for the Little Princess Trust. She donated the hair and raised over £1,000. She does little raffles as well for Alder Hey so it really didn’t surprise me that she wanted to do something to help people now.”
Younger sister Sarah has also spent her Christmas money buying a little sewing machine, so there could soon be a family production line going.
“Sophie just feels like she’s doing her bit and helping out as much as she can and I think for someone of her age, it’s absolutely fantastic,” says her mum. “I’m so proud of her.”
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