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Turning my craft skills into something useful for the NHS

Hello, my name is Katie Jackson and I am a member of the Side-by-Side network. I have always been a person who has kept busy in various activities including textiles and crafts which is largely influenced by my background in textile painting, and I've been able to realise the importance of having hobbies more than ever during lockdown.

Going into lockdown was a bit of a shock for me and probably for a lot of people. I had a friend who had been temporarily living with me since Christmas, while various works were due to be completed on her home. As the construction was drawn to a halt on my friend’s house, she ended up staying at mine throughout lockdown.

Luckily, my friend and I happen to share similar hobbies so we first started to create jewellery to keep ourselves occupied during the first few weeks. One day, I heard the news that there was a demand for scrubs and laundry bags for our health services in our local area. After hearing this, I wanted to help out in my own way by creating scrubs and laundry bags at home. Although I have had a hobby in textiles for many years now I have never worked on creating medical supplies before, so this was very new to me. I downloaded a design pattern for the scrubs online and used an extremely large piece of fabric to cut the pieces out. In total, I created nine tops and bottoms which took ten days to complete.

When I contacted my local surgery, I was also able to find out that there was a need for face masks, so I felt I had to take on another new project of making some for those who needed it. After spending weeks on this project, I finally finished with having created 85 masks in total. Recently, I received a call from the practice manager who shared that they have been making good use of the medical supplies that I was able to provide; I'm delighted that I have been able to support my local health services in some way.

This whole experience has kept me busy throughout lockdown, however, I felt it was slightly intense at times as I believed I had to be quick with making them as they were urgently needed. After having spent a good few weeks keeping ourselves occupied, I am now ready to take a break from the sewing machine and do some more exercises at home.

I understand that there are a lot of people who may be feeling isolated or anxious during these difficult times. For me, I always make sure that I have music, the TV or the radio playing in the background to give a sense of someone being in the house. I think staying in contact with friends and family is vital, whether that is through phone calls or video call.

This whole experience of Covid-19 has made me feel more thankful and be more thoughtful of others in our community, and I feel it was really important for me that I was able to give something back.

On a final note, keep safe and occupied everyone. Let’s keep our spirits up!

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