Gowns with a silver lining

A community sewing class has teamed up with Bradford businesses to create reusable theatre scrubs and gowns for the NHS.

Around 100 gowns as well as scrubs, masks and bags have been created by Bradford College Distance and Community Learning students and donated to healthcare staff at hospitals in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield as well as a dental practice and GP surgeries in West Yorkshire.

Duncan Burnett, Curriculum Manager for Distance Learning, said: “They have been so popular that we’re now taking orders!”

Led by tutor Nabeela Khan, a group of students have been creating the gowns during online sewing and costume making classes, taught to members of the community while Bradford College’s buildings remain physically closed. The subject is among many offered as part of the distance learning curriculum and been adapted to enable members of the community to continue their learning and promote positive mental and physical wellbeing.

The students who have created the materials include harder to reach members of the community, including refugees, workers who have been furloughed and people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nabeela explained that she delivered the material to the students who, under her guidance, sewed the gowns, scrubs and masks at home before they were delivered to hospitals and clinics in the area.

They even created drawstring bags so once the gowns were used, they could be put into the bags and straight into the wash when the wearer arrived home from work.
She said: “We took videos and photos of every stage of the process. We even had a WhatsApp group for classes making the gowns.

“The gowns have to be made very well and the students have become better and better at stitching. They’ve given up lots of their time to do this and have done so well.”

With fabric, elastic and interfacing donated by Bombay Stores as well as fabric donated by Dilshad Fabrics, the gowns have not only supported the efforts against Covid-19 but also helped the environment by reducing the use of disposable gowns. Duncan added: “The gowns ensure sustainability so even in these times we’ve tried to prevent unnecessary waste.

“It’s just wonderful and I thank each and every student and staff member for supporting our NHS, sustainability and showcasing the skills of Bradfordians. It shows that in textile production, Bradford is still among the best in the world!”

Chief Nurse of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Karen Dawber said: “One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has done, is to bring communities together and encouraged people into looking out for one another. We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our community and with Bradford College and their support during this time has touched all of us at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

“So from everyone at the Trust, we send an enormous thank you to Nabeela Khan and her Distance and Community Learning sewing students, who have done a fantastic job in making the masks, bags and gowns. We are indebted to them. We are also very grateful to Dilshad Fabric and Bombay Stores for their kind donation of the material. Gestures like this really illustrate how we are all in this together.”

As well as sewing, Bradford College is currently offering online courses in cooking, British Sign Language, accountancy, keep fit, active in the community, textiles, digital employability and preparation for work clubs.