Published on 19/10/20
Alumni Relations Officer Melissa Santiago-Val originally partnered with fellow creative Jane Horwood during lockdown, making vibrant community-use fabric face coverings. CommunityMasks4NHS raised £40,000 for NHS Charities Together, recruiting a network of 50 volunteers, making over 10,000 masks, worn by celebrities including ‘Strictly’ judge Craig Revel-Horwood; author (and SPF alumna) Lucy Hawking and Cambridge geneticist and broadcaster Giles Yeo.
With 6 million people across the country getting sewing machines out in lockdown (according to the Big Community Sew), and the emerging mental health crisis from the pandemic this has evolved to Sew Positive, supporting people who face social exclusion, by bringing sewing and creativity together to help bond communities and support mental health.
In addition to selling over 12,000 face coverings made by volunteers, over 1000 have been donated to local charities and voluntary groups for free, including Jimmy’s, Cambridge Women’s Refuge, Turtledove, Illuminate (Mental Health), Homestart, Community Transport teams and many more. The team is also developing a SMILE mask with a clear window for use by people with hearing issues, dementia or other mental health issues, where seeing facial expression may be more important. They are also being trialled with the Cambridge charity Read-Easy, supporting adults with low literacy to read.
Our team of volunteers ranges from students, people working (including physiotherapists, teachers, set designers, seamstress), those who are retired, to volunteers who have been shielding, some with limited digital access, and it has helped form a great community in itself, which we intend to grow!
Sew Positive is currently an unincorporated charity, in the application process to achieve registered charity status. Donations made to the Sew Positive JustGiving Crowdfunding page will enable the team of volunteers to buy materials for making masks, run a variety of sewing workshops and events for groups facing social exclusion and mental health issues, and to set up the charity.