Helping the cause during COVID-19

Birmingham’s principal surveyor Melissa Osborne volunteered herself for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in order to support Trident and her community during this strange and unfamiliar time. During her furlough, Melissa has been helping her village surgery stay as safe and productive as possible.

Were you approached to help or did you approach the group? Who are you helping?

I live in a tight-knit village, so we are all pretty good at caring for each other – even when the world isn’t bonkers! Signs went up in the shop and on notice boards saying that there was a group set up by the parish council and the patients participant group, attached to the surgery. I offered to help, which at the time was mainly delivering shopping and prescriptions for self-isolating people, calling people who might need company, checking to see if people were okay. I had an email asking if people could sew scrub bags so, being a keen sewer (I am also a drainage expert, but that’s a different story), I offered to make some and to coordinate the team of sewing enthusiasts.

What are your main tasks? Is there a plan in place?

Initially my role was to coordinate the different sewing groups; I have a group of ladies from the WI, some from a local sewing group, and some individuals. The surgery wants as few people to go as possible so I would collect the pieces from each of the ladies to deliver, along with my own, to the surgery. Things have moved on and it’s becoming a full-time job! We had a request from the health care professionals for scrubs and face masks for those volunteers who were doing prescription deliveries. I am officially a “Warwickshire Scrubber” so am sourcing material and patterns for the scrubs and am even now assigning roles and responsibilities! Good job us Building Surveyors have some Project Management skills!

The more accomplished sewers with overlocking machines are on scrubs; people with normal machines (and who have elastic… it’s becoming a bit like bread flour or toilet roll!) are on face masks; others are on bags, although we are all still making the odd bag or two. This needs to be planned with military precision. I’m collecting our first lot of fabric and patterns to deliver to my ladies and collecting finished articles- I have a spreadsheet!

How has it been received?

Very well, our doctors are amazing. We’ve had emails thanking us, and the volunteering group are going to post pictures of our finished garments on social media.

Have you been surprised by what has happened?

Just by how heart-warming it is that everyone wants to help in whichever way they can. Plus, I’ve made some new friends!

A moment that almost had me in tears was when I delivered more scrub bags to the surgery on Friday. I take them to the back door, ring the bell, step back then someone comes out to collect them. The young lady wearing an NHS uniform came out, told me how humbled they felt that everyone was doing so much to help. I told her how amazing our doctors’ surgery is all the time, not just now. We were both a bit “totes emosh”!

Trident is so proud of Melissa and her efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak. We do however hope to see her back at her desk and onsite soon!

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