North East NHS worker uses design skills in the good fight against COVID-19
By day, 23 year old Laura Brown works for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, providing administrative support to staff in key areas. By night, Laura has been tailoring her skills with the University of Huddersfield to complete a Bachelors degree in Costume with Textiles.
As a designer and maker of costumes for stage and screen, Laura’s top accolades include working with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Doncaster Cast and the National Theatre. But with the global health pandemic closing all theatres and studios, she has turned her hand to sewing threads for the NHS.
Last month the trust opened its own factory to produce protective gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health and care staff tackling the global disease. This co-production brings together the trust and other NHS partners as well as a network of businesses and organisations to boost supplies of gowns for the trust’s teams but also across the North East and beyond.
Laura, from North Shields, worked alongside the team to design the pattern for the life saving PPE being created in the factory. Taking a very different direction compared to the stage attire she is used to creating, Laura rose to the challenge to keep her colleagues safe in these unprecedented times. It doesn’t stop there either – the seamstress has donated sets of hand made scrubs to the palliative care team too.
Paul Dunn, director of finance for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust explains ‘This latest move is a hybrid of Northumbria Healthcare’s ethos of innovative thinking and offering home grown solutions. At our Trust alone we have a workforce of over 14,000 people, creating a huge demand for PPE. The fact that we have been able to provide a local solution that will benefit healthcare providers across the country really speaks to the Northumbrian way of doing things.’
Laura Brown added ‘Working for the NHS gives me an opportunity to help people, even if just in a small way. My whole family works for the NHS – my mam is a nurse, dad a medical records porter and my twin sister Kate is also a bank receptionist while doing her PHD. There are lots of families in the NHS and I love the really supportive community of North Tyneside General Hospital Urgent Care, where I currently work the most.
It has been extremely rewarding to lend my creative skills to the NHS’s fight against COVID-19. Many people question the point of art careers, but the efforts of myself and so many other artists across the country making PPE has really proven that creativity matters, and that makes me happy.’
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