A Plymouth-based fashion and textiles sampling studio is making workwear for health workers battling Covid-19 by turning surgery curtains into new protective garments.
Following a request from a local GP surgery and Plymouth College of Art, Makers HQ is redeploying its textiles machinery to make scrubs for health workers fighting the virus in the community. This includes workwear for staff at a planned Covid-19 testing facility in Plymouth.
Makers HQ has taken delivery of unused surgery curtains, the type used around patient beds on hospital wards, and is cutting and preparing the material ready for it to be turned into scrubs. The material is then passed to fashion students from Plymouth College of Art who are making the final garments from their homes using machinery loaned by Makers HQ.
Makers HQ launched in August 2018 with the support of Power to Change, an independent trust that provides advice and funding to community businesses across England.
The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the NHS has increased the demand for regular medical workwear and scrubs as health workers are forced to repeatedly change their clothes throughout the day to avoid passing on the virus.
The current manufacturing project in Plymouth is voluntary but Makers HQ hopes to become a supplier to the NHS on a bigger scale. The studio is currently joined in consultation with bodies such as the British Fashion Council, Make it British and the Cabinet Office who are looking at ways to on-shore the development of textile-based PPE and hospital gowns in the UK.
Sophie Glover, Studio Manager at Makers HQ, said: “This is a difficult time for our business as we’ve had to pause most of our operations and furlough some staff. At the same time, we want to do everything we can to help the NHS, and it’s great that we’ve been able to draw on our partnership with Plymouth College of Art to support on this project.
“Our hope is that we can coordinate with all the relevant bodies so that we can help the NHS on a bigger scale, while also being able to sustain our business and put more of our employees back to work.”
Makers HQ provides a range of services for brands and designers including sampling and production runs of garments and other textile products. As a community business, Makers HQ also runs training and apprenticeship programmes with the aim of helping people in the local community into education and employment within the fashion and textiles sector.
Last year Makers HQ was also named as one of the winners of the Community Business Challenge in Plymouth, an initiative run by Marks & Spencer and Power to Change that celebrates inspiring community businesses across the country.
More information about Makers HQ can be found here: https://www.makershq.co.uk/
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About Power to Change
Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.
Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector owns assets worth £890m, and comprises 9,000 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2019).
From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.
About The National Lottery Community Fund
We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.