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Lockdown one year on: How 'Harrogate Scrubbers' united the local community

One year on from the start of the first national lockdown, the community group affectionately known as the 'Harrogate Scrubbers' is finally winding down.

One year on from the start of the first national lockdown, the community group affectionately known as the 'Harrogate Scrubbers' is finally winding down. The group began when various members of the Harrogate community jumped to the aid of Harrogate Hospital staff when scrubs were at a national shortage. And before long, the group, which was started on Facebook, had grown to more than 850 people in what become a remarkable demonstration of community spirit. The 'Harrogate Scrubbers' were able to make and deliver more than 2,000 sets of scrubs and raise over £35,000 for charity. One year later, founder Fran Taylor recalls the moment she decided she wanted to help out her local hospital:

"This time last year I was reading online about the national shortage of scrubs and the fact that there was an international shortage of polycotton. I just remember thinking ‘I’ve got a sewing machine, I could make a couple of sets of scrubs’ and then realised very quickly that there were lots of people in the same boat as me!

"We banded together and ended up, 10 weeks later, with 850 people on the Facebook group and having raised £35,000 and delivering 2,000 sets of scrubs to Harrogate Hospital.

"It was such a brilliant thing and I think it was really good because there was something that needed to be done, a tangible thing was needed, but the other side of it for me was the community involvement which was absolutely amazing."

[caption id="attachment_6690" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Harrogate Scrubbers member Susie Cox hard at work[/caption] The group demonstrated the positive side of social media, with Facebook providing a platform for members to both communicate and maintain human contact.

Fran added:

"Whether it was retired people who were used to being active, others on furlough, we just had so many people who wanted to get involved and they needed that human connection.

"Someone at the other end of Facebook to have a chat to was brilliant, but of the 850 people in our group a lot of those were general supporters who were just excited about being part of a group."

As well as sewers, the group also expanded to include delivery drivers as they began to produce more and more scrubs for NHS staff. And Fran told how often people would jump at the chance to deliver scrubs as a way of connecting with others - albeit from a social distance or on a doorstep:

"People wanted a legitimate reason to go out, have a little drive and stand on someones doorstep to say hi. It was lovely we could extend it and run it in an organised way.

"There were lots of people in Harrogate who wanted to donate money, we had so much community support, and it meant everyone came together, it was just brilliant."

[caption id="attachment_6689" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Harrogate Scrubbers have been involved in other community projects in the last year, including sewing kit bags for Harrogate Town.[/caption] One year on, Fran said the group are finally "winding down" having also taking part in various other community projects. And Fran is hopeful that their 'celebratory quilt', which will see every member of the Harrogate Scrubbers add their own square, will be exhibited to commemorate the group's work during lockdown:

"Everything comes to an end and it was a lot of input and effort and we are winding down, but we’ve had a number of other projects we’ve been doing. We’ve been making kit bags for Harrogate Town Football Club and sewing blankets for stillborn babies at the Hospital.

"The other thing that we’re in the process of doing is sewing celebratory quilts, and everyone involved in the project is making a little square.

"I’m hoping this summer we’ll be able to exhibit them somewhere to show what just a small part of the Harrogate community achieved during 2020, so watch this space."

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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