Good Causes

Jane’s sewing for care workers

Like most people in her small Welsh village, Jane Nicholas enjoyed taking part in the nationwide Clap for Carers. But the 59-year-old former teacher and educational researcher wanted to do more to help and thanks to her dexterity with a sewing machine, she’s found a way to do it.

Working with a National Lottery-funded project called The Tool Shed, Jane is making cotton laundry bags, headbands and face masks for workers in care homes near Meinciau, the village in Carmarthenshire, Wales, where she has lived for 20 years.

The cotton bags are used by care workers to take their uniforms home and wash them without anyone else touching them. The soft headbands have buttons that allow a protective mask to be attached and worn for extended periods without the user experiencing chafing.

Other Tool Shed volunteers are making heavy duty bags for community midwives who use them to carry essential items such as weighing scales.

Jane said, “We all went out and clapped for the carers, but I thought it would be nice to do something more than that. I think the care sector has been really badly affected [by coronavirus] and hopefully this is making their lives a bit easier.”

So far, Jane has made more than a dozen bags and roughly the same number of headbands. She has recruited two of her neighbours to the sewing project and receives regular donations of haberdashery – buttons, zips and thread – from other villagers.

Jane said, “It crossed my mind that not everyone has sewing skills nowadays. Years ago, it was much more common that people could sew and had a sewing machine. I used to do dressmaking for myself in the days when it was cheaper to make your own clothes.”

The Tool Shed is a tool library set up by the Centre for Building Social Action (CBSA) that serves families in Carmarthenshire experiencing in-work poverty. It loans out a wide range of tools as well as lawnmowers and was preparing to deliver its first set of DIY training courses when the lockdown began.

Mike Theodoulou, the Chief Executive of CBSA, said, “The virus changed everything. The van that we were using to deliver tools is now delivering food and seeds to people who want to grow their own vegetables. We had six sewing machines as part of the tool library and we’ve now loaned them to volunteers to make bags and headbands.”

Jane said the sewing project has helped her get to know some of her neighbours a bit better and given her a sense of satisfaction. She said, “It’s nice to be able to do something useful in these extraordinary times.”

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22nd June 2020

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