Helping During the Pandemic: Sewing Scrubs for the NHS

For The Love Of Scrubs – Helping During the Pandemic

Meet the working mom who is spending her spare time at her sewing machine to help protect and support the U.K.’s National Health Service during COVID-19.

Executive Assistant Gina Halwani, a 10-year ArgoGlobal employee in London, is a keen sewer who has been helping during the pandemic as part of a nationwide group of volunteers that make personal protective equipment (PPE) for the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).

How did you get into making PPE for the NHS?

My elderly mother lives with us, and I know a few people with medical conditions who have to visit hospital regularly, so I was worried about them venturing out.

I followed a couple of Instagram pages to pick up some tips on how to make masks and came across a lady I used to work with. She was making scrubs for the NHS through a voluntary organization called For The Love Of Scrubs – started by a nurse who wanted to combat the increasing shortage of scrubs for frontline workers looking after COVID-19 patients.

I offered my services to my local hospital in Hertfordshire, who had just started a branch. I completed the relevant application to declare that everyone in my household was free of COVID-19 and that I could adhere to the stringent safety procedures for collecting, manufacturing and delivering the scrubs.

Literally within half an hour, a bag had been dropped outside my house containing 10 sets of scrubs, cut out and ready to be stitched together. It was a bit daunting at first­ – I’ve done lots of sewing, but the scrubs obviously need to be hard wearing and are washed at very high temperatures, so there can be no loose threads, and every seam and panel has to be robust and secure.

I’ve now made 24 sets of scrubs, plus scrub bags, scrub hats and ear protectors. In our little group, we’ve made 1,053 sets and we have now fulfilled all the NHS orders that were really desperate for frontline medical teams. We don’t want to stop though, so we are now going to support care homes and local GP clinics, so they are properly equipped when they start admitting patients again.

Have you always enjoyed sewing?

Sewing is my hobby. My late father had a dressmaking factory, so I’ve been involved all my life and developed a love for fabric and sewing from a very early age.

I have several sewing machines and an overlocker. I’ve also just inherited a huge industrial Janome machine from my aunt. It’s 30 years old, but it’s like the Rolls-Royce of sewing machines, and now I’ve revived it with some fresh oil, it’s absolutely brilliant!

Has helping during the pandemic also helped you?

We all need a hobby to relieve stress, and mine is sewing. I’ve continued to work for ArgoGlobal full-time during lockdown, and I’m also caring for a 96-year-old along with the rest of the family, so if I didn’t have the sewing, I think my mental health would have suffered.

This is something that’s just for me and there are so many other benefits. It’s improved my skills, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve made a lot of new friends. I also feel good that I’ve contributed to a bigger national effort. For The Love Of Scrubs now has over 50,000 members, so I’m part of something quite amazing.

In times of crisis, we all need to look after our mental health and I’m genuinely grateful to ArgoGlobal for being so supportive of their employees during lockdown. To be able to do something that I really love is just amazing.

Learn more about the organizations Argo Group and employees are supporting in the communities where they live and work – and how you can help.