College receptionist sews scrubs for care workers

Mags Merson, Reception & Information Services Assistant at City of Glasgow College, has turned her passion for crafting into making scrubs for care home nurses and care workers.

She started by making masks for her mum and her partner’s mum, before the official lockdown. That led her to making wash bags for nurses’ uniforms for use in washing machines, to prevent contamination.

“I did a load of them,” explained Mags. “I then spotted someone else doing ear buddies. These are rectangular pieces of cloth with two buttons sewn on that go at the back of the head. The elastic from a face mask hooks around the buttons saving the skin behind the ears getting chaffed. I made a number of those and took them to my local care home.”

The 48 year old, who lives in Hamilton, works two days a week at the college which allows time for her voluntary work.

“Volunteering is an important part of why I work part-time. I normally spend around 50 hours a month engaging with people in the community,” explains Mags. So I feel by helping nurses and care workers, I am repurposing my volunteer work.

City of Glasgow College is supporting Mags in her efforts. Paul Little, Principal and Chief Executive at the college, said:

“I am continually humbled and proud of the lengths our staff are going to in order to contribute to or directly help those working in the frontline during this crisis. This is another example of Team City going above and beyond, and highlighting the sense of community spirit which underpins our college sector.”

The masks, wash bags and ear buddies set the scene for Mags who has now started making hospital scrubs.

“They’re a big task. It takes a full day to make one set, trousers and top. You need to use the right material and to know that it will stand a 60 degree wash, so the fabric always has to be prewashed first to check for shrinkage,” explains Mags.

The scrubs consist of side vents, four patch pockets and two extra deep side pockets in the trousers to accommodate the extra space the carers need while they work. The seams are reinforced by overlocking the whole garment which makes them very durable.

“There’s 23 pieces to be cut and prepped for each set. It’s a massive process even before you start sewing,” adds Mags.

Her aim is to produce five sets a week which she will deliver to care homes in her local area, including Avonbridge and Abercorn House, but she is happy to help anyone in the care sector who would benefit from her work.

“It makes sense to put my dressmaking knowledge - and four sewing machines - to good use for this vital cause. As long as I have the funds and the fabric I will keep making the scrubs, beyond lockdown. I am enjoying and learning from the experience, and it’s great for my own mental health.

“I deliberately target care homes as they struggle a bit more for funds and their staff work with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. My scrubs are like secret pyjamas, the fabric is soft and comfortable but conforms to NHS standards.

“As a personal thanks I embroider a small blue heart onto each garment, and that’s what it’s about for me. Every little helps these workers in this crisis.”

Mags has a go fund me site which she is using to raise money for the fabric she uses. Any excess will go towards NHS Scotland or For the Love of Scrubs.