Galway textiles technician Kelly Roberts has been putting her creative skills and resources to invaluable use since April, making hundreds of reusable face coverings for use both in nursing homes and for GMIT staff.
A member of staff in GMIT’s School of Design and Creative Arts, Kelly has been making, on average, 75 non-medical masks a week, while continuing to remotely provide technical support to some 40 students on the BA in Design (Fashion & Textiles Design ), and homeschooling her two children.
Kelly and her colleagues are also preparing a plan for the safe return to campus of staff and students, in compliance with the HSE’s social distancing measures and public health guidelines.
“I wanted to use my skills and resources from GMIT to help fight this Coronavirus pandemic but it had to be something I could do at home, and around my children's daily schedule and GMIT work," said Kelly. "I am lucky to have access to the necessary resources in the textiles department as, shortly after shut down, we were allowed back into the campus for a quick visit to collect items - while adhering to strict physical distancing."
Kelly was able to bring a sewing machine and threads home where she set up a workstation. Much of the material for the masks is being provided by donations of fabric from friends and colleagues. "Mostly I use high quality cotton duvet covers and sheets as they are easy to fashion into non-medical masks," she says, "and everyone needs an excuse to clean out their hot press!"
Kelly began giving her masks to nursing homes around Galway as well as to front line workers. Word spears of her endeavours through social media, and now she is sending masks to areas outside of Galway, including to Donegal.
The GMIT health and safety officer, Doreen Geoghegan, has asked Kelly to provide reusable face coverings for GMIT staff who may opt to use them, as currently the institute is working on its 'Return to Campus Protocol' plan which includes a risk assessment component.
"If staff avail of the offer, it will keep me busy for many more weeks," she says, "and I would hope to have a reusable mask available for those who wish to use them come September, all going well.”
Those wishing to donate good quality fabric to Kelly can email her at [email protected].