Annelize Littlefair from Henley has won many competitions around the world for her quilting and has decided to put her sewing skills to good use in these difficult times to make masks for key workers and volunteers in the community.
Annelize said, “Whilst many of my friends, UK and international are sewing masks for hospitals that can prolong the lifespan of N95 masks, or surgical masks for nursing staff, I decided to make masks for key workers and volunteers in my local community. I have done all my research to establish what would be the best suitable material to make a mask that will not restrict breathing but reduce particles from getting into your face. In doing my research, I learnt that the majority of Covid-19 infections are NOT caused by aerosolised particles, but because of transmission from hand to face (hand touching mouth, nose or eyes).
“I came across a video from a front line doctor who works with Covid-19 patients that require treatment in intensive care units and respirators. He gave very solid advice on how best to prevent getting the virus. The key points are – wash your hands every time you touch anything and stop touching your face, best way to do this is to wear a mask. The mask does not stop you getting the virus, there is no mask that can stop the virus, even the N95 masks that surgeons wear are only 97% effective.”
Annelize has made over 300 masks already and has another volunteer helper making masks. Annelize comments, “We were hoping as many people as possible would be interested in these masks, and are offering them for free, one per household. Yesterday a friend talked to a nurse at the Hart surgery that told her that this is an amazing thing that we are doing and that everyone should be wearing masks.” Annelize has supplied all the admin and reception staff at Bell street surgery with masks and currently working on providing the doctors with scrubs and drawstring bags plus masks for staff at Acacia Lodge.
The masks are made from batik fabric, which Annelize has found to be the best material in the absence of medical grade material. It is sewn with a channel at the top where a pipe cleaner is inserted so it can be formed (shaped) to the top of a nose thereby making for a snug fit. The masks are made in a sanitised workspace with all our tools being cleaned before sewing. Once finished they are placed in a plastic bag with an instruction sheet for how to correctly wear them, washing instructions and further links to read regarding why people should wear a mask. The mask is kept in the plastic bag for 72 hours before we hand them out to ensure there are absolutely no trace of the virus present. There also is a reminder to wear the mask in conjunction with other recommendations as set by the government. Annelize added, “I wear a mask myself to prevent any droplets from accidentally falling on the masks while I am sewing them, so they are being produced in the most hygienic way possible. We also state on the instruction sheet that the mask needs to be washed before use.”
Any keyworker can request a mask from Annelize via email firstname.lastname@example.org. The email will only be used while we are in Covid situation and no details are retained. No information received from anyone will ever be shared and will be deleted as soon as the mask is delivered.
As well as masks, Annelize has also started sewing scrubs, scrubs drawstring wash bags and hats for NHS staff, as requested by the NHS and so far has one other volunteer in Henley but more people are needed. There is a group set up on Facebook for anyone wanting to help, called ‘Berkshire – For the love of scrubs – Our NHS needs YOU’.