Many people have joined one or more of the mutual support groups that have sprung up during lockdown.
One of these is Cotswold Scrubs, a community of over 800 people dedicated to sewing scrubs (unisex, pyjama-like sets of tops and trousers) for the NHS. The group provided a great opportunity for someone like me, self-isolating, to make a practical contribution to the effort to tackle Covid19. At last count it has produced at least 3200 sets of scrubs and thousands of masks, for health and now social care workers throughout the Cotswolds.
I was happy to sew to mitigate an immediate lack of supply, but angry that the provision of vital clothing relied on a voluntary and patchy ‘pop-up’ infrastructure around the UK. We know the government ignored warnings to stockpile resources for a possible pandemic. In a recent survey 60% of doctors said they had no access to scrubs in their place of work. And it’s not just doctors; all health and many care workers need scrubs to wear at work instead of their own clothes while the virus threat continues.
Quoting research by Autonomy that 2.5 million of the 3.2 million workers employed in the highest risk roles are women, the Fawcett Society (a national charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights) is calling for a guarantee that no key worker will be forced to work without high quality, sufficient and properly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE).
So while I applaud the work of Cotswold Scrubs, I also say, for Scrub’s sake! let’s get this sorted and fund vital protective clothing from the public purse. The NHS is not a charity, and we shouldn’t be encouraged to think of it as such – it’s a national, public service, that must be properly and equitably resourced, for all our sakes.
Julie Farmer, Fawcett Society member and amateur seamstress.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in these articles are those of local Party members and do not necessarily reflect the Labour Party.