Michelle Craggs, an experienced seamstress, is working alongside machinists and design technicians at Northumbria University’s School of Design to produce protective garments which are being distributed to hospitals, hospices and care homes.
The safety of the volunteers is key, with stringent risk assessments carried out to ensure the health of those taking part is protected and the two-metre rule strictly adhered to.
So far, Michelle has helped stitch together thousands of scrubs in different sizes, with batches being sent to Newcastle and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust as well as residential and long-term health care facilities such as St Oswald’s Hospice.
“I have worked as a seamstress since leaving school and have 15 years’ experience in the textile industry,” said the Northumberland College lecturer.
“I have kept sewing, and was asked to volunteer by someone I know who is working at Northumbria University the moment.
“My daughter is a key worker in a hospital as are many of her friends and I feel privileged to be asked to help.”
In the coming weeks, Michelle will be moving to Cramlington, where a warehouse leased from Wingrove Motor Company is being transformed into a factory capable of manufacturing up to 7,500 gowns and other PPE equipment each week for frontline health care teams.
Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their offers of support over recent weeks – the fact we have now have so many organisations and businesses helping us is a real testament to the innovative spirit of this region. Everyone has been fantastic and worked so quickly to help turn ideas into reality.
“We are receiving PPE through the national NHS supply chain but we know there is a huge demand for supplies globally which is a challenge. This extra support is vital to keeping stocks flowing as we use thousands of pieces of equipment every day. The new facility in Cramlington and the wider support we have from businesses means we can manage supply.”