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Leather centre ‘Scrubs Up’ for NHS clothing initiative

Date 15.07.2020

Healthcare staff have received many, new clinical scrubs during the pandemic thanks to the work of University of Northampton’s (UON) leather centre who have been supporting a local charity.

Scrubs Up for Northants NHS is a voluntary group that coordinates and supplies non-surgical scrubs for NHS staff in Northamptonshire. So far, the charity has helped make in excess of 3,000 scrubs.

The scrubs were dyed at UON’s Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT) and sewn together by volunteers across the county, including UON staff members.

The ICLT have dyed approximately 500kg – or half a tonne – of fabric, resulting in 650 sheets of material for cutting.

As you would expect from an industrial process, the dyeing was quite intensive. David Sherwood, Tannery Manager at the ICLT, explains: “The sheets of material were weighed and dyed in batches in our drums. This involved them being rehydrated in water in several stages, at different temperatures each time.

“This process was repeated – sometimes a third wash was required – before the finished sheets were put through a modern mangle and then hung to dry; I was ably assisted by my colleague Dr Anne Lama. It’s been great for the ICLT to support such a good cause, especially at a time when our NHS needs a little helping hand.”

A series of ‘Scrubs Hubs’ have been set up around the county – UON being one of them – in which sewing-savvy volunteers could pick up the dyed and pre-cut material to take home and make into hospital-ready scrubs, which they then return to the hubs for delivery.

Across the town and county, around 3,000 scrubs have been completed and sent to local hospitals, GP surgeries, community health care workers and care homes.

This isn’t the first time the University has answered the call for support from the health service during the pandemic.

From opening empty student rooms as temporary accommodation for health and care staff and Nursing, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy and Paramedic Science students providing extra staffing hours, UON people have been busy serving the local community.

Demand for scrubs remains high with more requests coming in including those from local dental surgeries and vets. So much so, UON’s hub will be open throughout July and is expected to open again in the Autumn.

For those who want to volunteer to help our Scrubs Up, the skill levels required are:

  • Cutting skills in order to cut out scrub sets in sizes 3XL and 4XL (patterns will be provided)
  • Sewing skills from beginner to intermediate (there are no advanced techniques needed).

Those who want to help support Northamptonshire NHS staff should fill out the volunteer form to register their interest.

For more details, email: elizabeth.quinn@northampton.ac.uk