Sewing Surgical Gowns – A Young Volunteer’s Reflection

Arya – Hampstead Gown Factory Volunteer 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal Free Charity teamed up with WAC Arts centre in the Old Town Hall in Belsize Park to host a team of more than 570 volunteers sewing surgical gowns for the staff at the Royal Free and Barnet hospitals. The project, named the Hampstead Gown Factory, finished on 30th August 2020. The volunteers in the project cut, sewed, folded and packed an amazing 50,000 surgical gowns for staff over the space of just five months.

​Arya was due to begin volunteering for the Royal Free Charity as part of the GP Volunteering Programme, but due to the pandemic her volunteering had to be suspended. Keen to continue volunteering in some capacity, Arya signed up to volunteer in a new way at the Hampstead Gown Factory.

Arya has shared some reflections on her time volunteering with us…

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to volunteer this summer at WAC, making PPE for the Royal Free Hospital. Living through the unusual circumstances that 2020 has brought upon us – 7-weeks of lockdown, quarantine birthdays and online school, I can honestly say that being able to get out the house and do something meaningful has been really appreciated.

During lockdown I found myself feeling fairly useless, as there wasn’t much I could do and I wanted to help out. While I did do some grocery shopping for my elderly neighbours who were shielding, it was only infrequently. I enjoy voluntary work and this made the fact that the GP programme was postponed very disappointing.

This summer I have been able to develop plenty of new skills such as sewing and pattern cutting, as well as meet a variety of new people. Even though I wasn’t the most confident seamstress and often accidentally jammed my machine, people were always happy to take the time to teach me the basics and help out.​

Volunteering at the Hampstead Gown Factory really highlighted the importance of community spirit and made clear to me how willing people are to support the NHS. Whether it was through the homemade cakes on the break table or how friendly and chatty everyone was, I felt very welcome and really enjoyed my time volunteering.

You can read more stories from Royal Free Charity volunteers on their blog.