‘It’s been really interesting, really worthwhile, and very different from what I’d expected’, Rod explains. ‘It is relentless. Usually we’ll work through an entire shift and it will be non-stop the whole time.’
Working alongside NHS colleagues has deepened Rod’s appreciation for the health service. ‘I have massive admiration for the paramedics’, he says, modestly. ‘I’m happy to make any contribution that I can, but it’s nothing compared to the work that they do.’
Joining a national sewing effort
Members of the King’s community have also been putting their creative skills to good use, transforming hobbies into gestures that make life easier for healthcare workers.
Bryony Frost, Head of Research Operations in the Research Management and Innovation Directorate, dusted off her sewing machine to make scrubs for healthcare workers.
NHS staff who would not usually wear scrubs are choosing to wear them during COVID-19 to reduce the risk of contamination. This has put pressure on the supply chain, with manufacturers unable to keep up with demand.
An army of volunteers have come forward to fill the gap by sewing scrubs and distributing them to GP surgeries, hospitals and other healthcare institutions across the UK. Fabric is donated by the community or sourced from professional suppliers through fundraising.
Bryony joined her local scrub-making group and has made five sets of scrubs as well as 50 washable bags, which reduce the infection risk by keeping used scrubs separate. She has enjoyed adding personal touches to the scrubs, for example by embroidering rainbows or unique labels.
As well as giving back to her community, sewing scrubs has enabled Bryony to develop new skills. ‘I’ve never made a pair of trousers before, but now I know how to put in trouser pockets and do elasticated waistbands’, she explains.
Part of Bryony’s motivation to join the scrub effort was contributing to something larger. ‘If someone says to you in ten years’ time when they are learning about it at school, “what did you do?”, I don’t really want to say, “I did a lot of Teams calls”’, she says. ‘Doing this makes you feel a bit more involved.’
Holly Knower, Head of Ventures at the King’s Entrepreneurship Institute, has also drawn on her sewing skills by making fabric headbands for nurses and midwifes in the local NHS Trust in South East London.
The headbands make wearing PPE more bearable over long shifts, as surgical masks can be attached to the comfortable fabric using buttons.