By: 3 April 2020
Masks for maternity

London Metropolitan University staff have sewn and donated hundreds of face masks to maternity wards in London, where midwives, obstetricians and cleaners are lacking protective gear as a result of the pandemic. 

Staff at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design at London Met, and their families and friends, have sewn nearly 500 face masks over the past week for use in maternity wards in hospitals, where staff are lacking protective gear amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Made carefully under guidelines provided from the NHS, these were produced by the wider Cass network, going beyond London to reach as far as Bournemouth, Norfolk and Suffolk. The masks have so far been given to Whittington Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital and a homeless shelter in Stratford. London Met’s sewing community are continuing to respond to the demand, anticipating they will make hundreds more masks to be sent around the country.

Sandra Denicke-Polcher, Deputy Head of Architecture at the Cass, led the initiative at London Met, in response to a call for help from a friend working in the NHS. She said: “If you listen to the news, you will have heard doctors worried about the lack of sufficient protective gear for NHS staff. What the NHS does have is being deployed for frontline staff dealing explicitly with the COVID-19 virus, and there are not enough face masks to protect those working in other areas.

“The masks which we are producing are going to maternity wards to protect staff and new mothers; to hospital cleaners; and for NHS staff to use while travelling on public transport, to minimise their risk of getting sick outside the hospital and having to drop out of the workforce. I didn’t expect such a huge response from the London Met community, but we’ve been able to produce hundreds of masks in a short time which have been gratefully received and are being used by NHS teams around London. People really appreciate keeping busy at home and knowing that they are doing something useful.”

Carolyn Paul and Anna Lawin-O’Brien from Whittington Hospital wrote a message to the volunteers: “To everyone in the sewing community, a huge thank you for your efforts. Your handmade cotton facemasks are beautiful statements of your appreciation for our maternity team. Thanks to you there will be smiles under our masks and our hearts will be a little lighter!”


The Masks for Maternity community have set up an Instagram page, where you can follow their progress and show your support.