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Shaftesbury Town Council is calling on local volunteers to join a new ‘Scrub Hub’ it has set up to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to local health and social workers, writes Richard Thomas.

The hub, launched on Friday 24 April, hopes to supply ‘scrubs’ – the loose clothes worn by doctors and nurses – laundry bags and gowns to care centres such as Westminster Memorial Hospital, the local GPs Blackmore Vale Partnership, and local care homes.

Shaftesbury School, which has a textiles suite, is helping oversee the work and the council is looking for volunteer sewers prepared to make the items – at home – under the guidance of school staff.

The hub has grown out of a recent attempt by the council to fund up to £20,000 of face masks and Covid test kits. The proposal caused a major row between councillors and led to the resignation of Save Our Beds campaigner Julian Prichard from the council.

The council set up a working group to liaise directly with the town’s health and social care workers to establish the actual need after Dorset Healthcare rejected the council’s initial offer as ‘inappropriate’.

Town clerk Claire Commons said: ‘The initial expectation of the council was that there was a need for masks and test kits, but this is no longer the case and I am delighted that we can be flexible in our response and co-ordinate the community sewing effort.

‘This is an exciting opportunity to bring together the community support for Shaftesbury’s health and social care workers.’

Nicola Williams, a teacher at Shaftesbury School, said: ‘It’s a wonderful opportunity to really meet the needs of our own community health care team. I’ve already had teachers talk to me about how to get involved.’

The organisers said that, conscious of the environmental impact, they are hoping to make sure that new sewing material is 100 per cent cotton and sourced locally where possible.

Many of the laundry bags and gowns will also be sewn from recycled sheets and other suitable fabrics.

Volunteers for sewing are being invited to register by contacting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScgIrp42aZxtDEB7Jj7Z_oJpp-ODVlFuvdt09eU66Pb2jc_nA/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1huZt3jKmnZvoozPnQM9LY6kOSH6bzbRt-sPodozVMgfhQFfyqDwYGQ4s or by visiting the dedicated Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1719101981563045/

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