Old sewing machines put to use in community effort to make medical masks

Pic of Debbie Curran, one of the founders of Masks 4 All Ireland - a community effort which has seen locals pull sewing machines out of attics and reuse forgotten skills.

Old sewing machines have been pulled out of the attic as a community gets stitched up to make masks in order to take the pressure off frontline supplies.

Over 400 face masks have been made in a week as more and more people seamlessly get on board the Masks 4 All Ireland campaign across Meath.

The initiative was started by three women who came across each other online last week, each wanting to do something to help from home where they are in lockdown.

One of the founders, Debbie Curran from Kildalkey said the group has been inundated with requests for masks from community groups and nursing homes outside the county looking for facial protection.

"I was reading about the lack of personal protection equipment and how masks in other countries have become compulsory and it got me thinking so I went online and came across Maeve Reilly, Miranda O'Callaghan and Olena Sobchuk who had similar ideas.

"Many people will have Covid-19 and be asymptomatic but can still pass it on. The way we see it is that the mask is just another layer of protection.

"If everyone assumed they had Covid-19 and wore the mask even out shopping, then it might stop a droplet from falling on food or railing or any surface someone else could touch.

These masks aren't high grade but they can be used by the public and free up the most effective masks for the frontline staff and people who really need them.

“People understand that they are only home-made but will offer some protection.

"No-one wants to unwittingly pass this virus on to those who may be vulnerable.

"They get home from shopping and wash them at a high temperature and then iron them at a high temperature.

"We have already given dozens out to various nursing homes and the Red Cross and even to palliative care nurses

"Local bikers have come on board to deliver them for us locally and we've had enquiries from all around the country on how to go about making them or where to get them

"It's amazing. Shops are helping us with materials and people are literally pulling old sewing machines from attics and relearning old skills."

The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:

  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing