Sewing Scrubs in Lockdown

Sewing Scrubs in Lockdown

Chief Electrician at the Octagon Kay Buckley talks about how she and others at the Octagon looked to help the Bolton community during the pandemic and has got her sewing machine out to be part of a fantastic group of volunteers sewing scrubs for Bolton's GPs.

Hi, my name is Kay and I am the Chief Electrician at The Octagon, this means I’m in charge of lighting and sound in the theatre.

This week I should have been receiving hand-over training from the fantastic team who are installing the upgrades to the technical infrastructure as part of our Octagon Reimagined capital project, I’m really excited to finally get my hands on the new technology we’ve been planning for over 2 years, but for obvious reasons this has had to wait.

As the COVID-19 crisis emerged, it became clear that we would need to close our office and change our normal working practices. One of the first meetings we had around this focused on what we could do as an organisation, and individuals, to help others in the Bolton family who might be struggling or seeing a sudden increase in demand for their services.

Theatre professionals are a resilient and adaptable lot, our day to day work often consists of rapidly changing plans and finding solutions. Theatres have a wonderful way of always throwing up new challenges, and after nearly 18 years in the job I love that I’m still finding new solutions to problems I haven’t encountered before. It’s truly one of the best things about working at the Octagon that our entire staff came together to think of ways we could use our resources and skills to safely support the work of other local community groups.

Not long after lockdown started I saw a few posts on social media about NHS staff needing more scrubs, they were going through loads more to keep themselves and their patients as safe a possible and were struggling to get hold of them. I am by no means a seamstress, but I have a sewing machine and I like making bags and fabric toys, I figured scrubs were a simple enough garment to make and could see how this would be really helpful to frontline NHS staff.

I asked Roddy, our Chief Executive, if he could put me in touch with any NHS groups in Bolton that might be able to identify exactly what was needed and by whom. The Bolton GP Federation got in touch to say their members would really benefit form as many sets of scrubs as we could make, I think GPs and nurses are doing such a great job keeping community health care going in these times and was delighted to be able to help.

This was obviously something I could not achieve on my own, I asked for help from friends and colleagues. We have a lot of contacts within the world of Amateur Dramatics and with that some very talented stitchers, I asked friends who in turn asked their friends. There are currently 13 volunteers sewing in dining rooms and garages, supported by my wonderful husband who is delivering fabric and collecting finished items in a safe contact-free manner.

I’ve been blown away by the support of these volunteers, a lot of them are self-isolating and all see this as a brilliant way contribute to help those working in our fantastic health service, a small way to say thank you.

Friends and colleagues who couldn’t volunteer to sew have blown me away with donations towards buying fabric. So far we’ve had over £600 in donations, bought 250m of fabric and by the end of this week should have delivered nearly 50 sets of scrubs to our local GP surgeries.

A massive THANK YOU to the volunteer sewers: Rachel, Hilary, Carol, Vivien, Lucy, Lucy’s mum, Jean, Jen, Alex and Alex’s friends, you are all superstars.