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Praise for fantastic work by Kent Scrubbers and Tenterden PPE group

A community group that started in Ashford before growing county-wide is beginning to wind down after being highly successful, the organisers have announced.

Since its inception on March 30, the Kent Scrubbers group raised more than £15,000 to buy fabric and used it to create more than 10,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff.

The group fundraised for over £15,000 worth of fabric
The group fundraised for over £15,000 worth of fabric

The group, which was founded by Sarah Mabb, Carole Dalton and Megan McKay, has seen volunteers clock in at least 19,367 volunteer hours.

Ms McKay said: "With our funding now depleted and our orders all fulfilled, we have made the difficult decision to begin to wind the group down.

"We have taken our last delivery of fabric from our wholesaler today, and once this has been distributed, we will not be purchasing any more.

"We cannot even begin to express how proud we are of each and every volunteer for being part of this huge achievement.

"Many of the volunteers have put themselves out of their comfort zones by learning new skills to help with this staggering achievement during an unprecedented time of increased anxiety, stress and uncertainty.

Co-founder Sarah Mabb with bags of PPE that the group created
Co-founder Sarah Mabb with bags of PPE that the group created

"Everyone should take the time to step back and give themselves a huge pat on the back!"

And many volunteers have said that giving the time to help others has also helped with their own wellbeing.

Rose Hall, from Lydden near Dover, said: "When I joined the group, I had never used a sewing machine, my husband was the sewer previously.

"I enjoyed every minute and it gave me a real sense of purpose- giving me something useful to do. It helped my mental health tremendously."

Lida Meakings, from Folkestone, said: "I was inspired to join the group because we are all in this together.

A thank you note from the William Harvey Hospital who recieved many of the groups donations
A thank you note from the William Harvey Hospital who recieved many of the groups donations

"Watching the news with the front line staff not having everything they need to do the fantastic job they do, I felt that I had to do something to help, so I joined the group.

"The sense of community has been brilliant, it has kept me sane since being furloughed on April 1."

The Kent Scrubbers is not the only group across the county to have taken to caring for the NHS.

The PPE Tenterden group was started by school teacher and mum-of-four Chloe Newman after she asked her neighbours to donate pillowcases that she could turn into masks.

She explained: "After my request started getting shared around, I must have ended up with around 120 pillowcases overnight - way more than I could manage!"

PPE Tenterden volunteer Annabel Welch. Photo: Helen Batt/ @helenbattphoto [IG]
PPE Tenterden volunteer Annabel Welch. Photo: Helen Batt/ @helenbattphoto [IG]

After that, more and more people started volunteering and soon the group was made up of 45 to 50 people, including people who did the sewing, delivered the fabric and picked up the PPE!

Mrs Newman believes the group created around 15,500 items in all, including headbands, masks and more.

These have been distributed all across the south east and to as far away as Exeter.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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