Shoebury HUB151 behind the yellow doors......

by chrisg,

Shoebury Hub 151…….. is tucked away in West Road next to the ice cream factory, a useful place to be in the hot Summer. It is run in an old Evangelical Church building which is quite beautiful in it’s design. I always think we are like The Windmill Theatre which boasts of never closing - exactly the philosophy that we adopted when the Covid 19 pandemic forced the country into lockdown and the NHS was in trouble, particularly with the shortage of PPE.

The hub is always busy with different groups attending every day, one of these groups being The Red Hot Stitchers who make beautiful bags alongside teaching members of the community to sew. The bags are partly an attempt to encourage our community to ditch plastic and partly a project to serve groups like the women’s hostel, food banks and much more. Carolyn Warner, who runs the group, immediately set up a site called ‘Sew 4 Community’ when the news broke of the shortage of Scrubs and uniforms due to lack of stock. The site encouraged volunteers to make scrubs, gowns, hats and wash bags for nurses, doctors and carers. We placed a large box outside the hub and making pleas for donations of material on social media and by word of mouth and the community, as usual, came up trumps and the material started coming; the power of the internet is amazing! The box was overflowing every day with fabric of beautiful designs and colours which when turned into scrubs would brighten up the day of patients and doctors and nurses alike.

And the volunteers came from all walks of life and abilities, strangers united in a common cause, they started to flow in from all over the area setting up in satellite hubs as far as Hullbridge, Leigh, Castle Point and Wickford, where a hub was set up in The Quart Pot pub, Rochford, Canvey, Hockley, Wakering, Shoebury and many more.

The machinists never stopped, HUB 151 and The Quart Pot Pub became the centre for collection and delivery. Every day material would be delivered to satellite hubs or the individual sewers if they were unable to collect it, then picked up when they had been completed, this continued despite lockdown. No matter the ability of volunteers there was something for everyone to contribute, from scrubs and specialist gowns, to wash bags and hats, every stitch counted. The huge cutting table in HUB151 workshop was full of material every day being cut to size and folded neatly into packs to be sent out. Behind the yellow doors of the hub, this went on seven days a week, from early in the morning until late in the evening, volunteers were working tirelessly every day and Carolyn made sure the process ran like clockwork!

The scrubs were sent all over the country as well as Essex, no plea for scrubs was turned down….they went to London, to Luton, to The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Pick ups and deliveries to the further destinations were transported by a team of volunteer motor bikers who for longer journeys would ride in relay, volunteers would deliver more locally to care homes, surgeries and hospitals, never complaining but always with a smile on their faces.

Requests for scrubs are still coming in today and the requests being fulfilled, no one has been turned away.

For me HUB151, although not yet able to open for our wonderful groups and projects, has done what it does best, serve the community.

With the latest Government ruling on face coverings, we have turned to making washable masks, and holding pop up giveaway sessions to ensure that our residents are equipped to venture out when the time is right. This is still ongoing and supporting local groups such as ‘Folks Like Us’, Little Heroes, Sheltered Housing and a number of SEND schools. We still need more volunteers to sew for this particular project as demand far outweighs supply.

As a lasting memory of this wonderful project every sewer was asked to make a 4x4 square relevant to the project and these have now been made into the most exquisite quilt, punctuated by the words and phrases made by people involved.

Whilst all this was going on, The Little Free Library Project, which runs from the hub, placing the libraries all over the Southend area, in front gardens, nurseries, outside shops and children’s centres, has kept the community supplied with books whilst the libraries are closed. They have never been so busy with people going from one to the other taking and leaving books, it is amazing!!!

We have also taken the opportunity to overhaul the very overgrown garden and are currently turning part of it into a vegetable garden to allow residents to work outside and watch the wonder of vegetables and flowers growing.

There are many other stories I can tell, both happy and distressing, but that would take forever. Needless to say, I have been both humbled and proud to have been involved behind those bright yellow doors of the hub doing what it does best, serving the community.

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