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Project Scrubs

Biosphere stakeholder leads community project to assist NHS

'Although this pandemic has been terrible in many ways, it has also brought people together as a community, which is something that we should recognise.' Billee Saade, fashion lecturer at University College Isle of Man (UCM), a member of our Biosphere’s Stakeholder Partnership Group, talks about her pride in Project Scrubs:

A cross-community effort led by UCM has led to the production of 250 sets of scrubs (hospital-grade workwear) for the Isle of Man's healthcare workers.

During these difficult times, we thought we could create something that was not only functional but also symbolic of all the amazing values of healthcare staff, other key workers and also people within our community.

As the saying goes: ‘The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow.'

We’ve noticed that although this pandemic has been terrible in many ways, it has also brought people together as a community, which is something that we should recognise.

I was inspired to put together a local scrubs team after hearing about Scrub Hub, a UK-based voluntary initiative, created by members of the public, that is making scrubs for NHS staff who are struggling to receive uniforms due to the urgent global demand.

I contacted Calum Harvey, a fellow expert in garment production, who agreed to manage the technical aspects of the project from day one.

Calum and I started off by developing the processes to create 250 sets of scrubs; that's 500 garments, through a 10-step manufacturing process. It was a huge undertaking, as it was quite complex, not only because these clothes had to conform to rigorous hygiene regulations, but some of the materials were harder to obtain during the pandemic.

We were very lucky to source items from Joshitex London, a trusted supplier for our fashion students at UCM, who provided us with fabric and trimmings at an amazing discount and didn't charge for carriage – which amounted to a lot for 500 garments' worth of fabric.

Production of the scrubs took place across three large rooms in the UCM Homefield Road campus, and strict precautions were taken to ensure the safety of all involved. Once all items were produced, they were processed through the hospital laundry to ensure that they adhere to hospital hygiene regulations, before being distributed across the healthcare services.

in the true spirit of our Biosphere, Project Scrubs UCM has brought together more than 35 volunteers from across the Island, all working in critical roles.

Local fashion professionals such as Ray Cousins from Creative Textiles, Castletown; Viv Quayle, seamstress; Claire Christian Couture; Louise Bell from Untangle Interiors; Mandy Harvey at Snuggles Studio and Nula from Sew What all contributed their time and expertise.

UCM's fashion graduates also played a key role in garment production by bringing their skills and dedication to the studio.

While thoroughly practical, the colours of these scrubs were carefully chosen to reflect the skills and values of the Island's healthcare workers: peach for compassion, yellow for hope, red for strength, green for safety, purple for wisdom, blue for faith and brown for security.

Once all items were produced, they were processed through the Noble's Hospital laundry to ensure that they adhere to hospital hygiene regulations, before being distributed across the healthcare services.

The first batch of our scrubs were delivered to Abbotswood Nursing Home recently and one of the nurses sent us a photo of herself wearing the peach scrub and holding a ‘thank you’ note. It made me and everyone at Project Scrubs UCM incredibly proud to see the results of our hard work already making an impact in the community.

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