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Bernie’s got Lockdown all Sewn Up!

#UnsungHero Bernie White is using her love of sewing to occupy herself during lockdown and helping the NHS at the same time. Bernie has had to temporarily close her dressmaking business because of the coronavirus outbreak and is putting her sewing skills to good use by making scrubs for local hospitals, hospices and care homes. Bernie anticipated the shortage of scrubs for key workers and set to making them back in March, she then later joined the ‘For the Love of Scrubs Birmingham Sub Group.’ So far, Bernie has made 100 scrubs which she has donated to five hospitals, two hospices and two care homes.

Bernie, who is a registered Carer with Birmingham Carers Hub, has been sewing since the age of 12 and has used sewing as an ‘escape’ from her caring role. When her eldest son X, had a stroke and a brain haemorrhage at the age of just 21, leaving him unable to walk or talk, Bernie used her love of dressmaking to distract herself from their family tragedy. Thankfully, X can now walk and talk, has a family of his own and in fact lives next door to his Mum with his partner who is also his Carer.

Bernie now provides care to her other son, Y, who for the last 18 years has had mental health problems. She has her sewing business set up in a workshop in the garden so she is always on hand should Y need her.

Bernie shares her tip for other Carers, “Caring can be very lonely, I think it’s important to keep one thing for you that’s personally yours. My advice to other Carers is to do something you enjoy that is completely alien to your caring role, something you can lose yourself in, and for me, that’s sewing.”

There’s lots of evidence that doing something creative can improve your wellbeing, whether this is sewing, knitting, drawing, writing or photography. All creative activities can prove relaxing, provide a short respite from your caring role and is a welcome occupation while in lockdown. Birmingham Museums Trust has been running a Creative Carers Programme offering free creative activities to support Carers since 2016. With the current pandemic situation, Carers are even more vulnerable and isolated, especially if they are having to self-shield to protect themselves and those they care for. Although there aren’t any physical meetings taking place, the Creative Carers Programme is using virtual ways to keep in touch with Carers, emailing weekly creative challenges, going on virtual tours plus much more. If Carers would like to join the Creative Carers mailing list, please contact Rosie.Barker@birminghammuseums.org.uk

If you would like to volunteer with the Birmingham branch of ‘For the Love of Scrubs’, join their Facebook group here. Or if you would like to contribute to their crowdfunding appeal, you can donate to the Birmingham appeal on JustGiving.