Staff and former fashion students join volunteer group making scrubs for NHS workers


Staff and former students at East Coast College have joined an army of volunteers who are using their skills to make scrubs for front-line NHS workers in Norfolk.

Caroline Reynolds, course Leader in fashion and textiles, started cutting and sewing scrub hats and laundry bags during the Easter holidays after being inspired by two former fashion students who posted about their volunteering efforts on Facebook.

She is being joined by Kathyrn Moore, an Education, Health and Care Plan liaison at the college, who previously completed a Foundation degree in fashion and is also sewing laundry bags.

The pair were inspired to get involved after seeing the work of Jaime Lawn and Julia Simnett – two former students who studied fashion and textiles at the college’s Great Yarmouth campus. For the past three weeks they have been cutting and sewing scrubs, hats and headbands as part of the Norfolk Scrubs Volunteers group.

The scrubs will help the doctors, nurses and cleaning staff who are working to save lives during the coronavirus crisis and almost £15,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe page set up by the Norfolk group to purchase the fabric and patterns needed.

Julia Simnett sewing the scrubs. Photo Julia Simnett.

Julia graduated from the college in 2012 with a Foundation Degree in Fashion and Textiles and went on to complete a BA in Arts Practice in 2014. Since graduating she has been working as a seamstress, until last year when she underwent surgery for an aneurysm on her brain.

She said: “I had been wanting to help but I didn’t know where to start and then I saw Jaime was making scrubs so I asked if I could help. I’m loving it. I’m not as fast as I used to be due to my operation but I’m slowly getting into it. It’s great therapy and I feel immensely proud to be able to help. We all have to do our bit, however big or small.”

Caroline added: “Fashion isn’t just about flamboyant designs and extravagance and corporate wear is a big part of the industry. Designing for health workers is quite complex as they have to be able to move freely in the garments. The clothing needs to be comfortable and obviously safe. Only certain materials and construction techniques can be used, as items need to be washed at a high temperature to minimise the risk of contamination. It’s great that our former students are using the skills they learnt during their time at East Coast College to help others, and I’m pleased to be able to put my skills to use as well!”

To support the Norfolk Scrubs Volunteers group, visit their GoFundMe page.