Friends of Margam Park: Bags of Love for the NHS

Local voluntary group, Friends of Margam Park have spent the past few weeks making drawstring bags for hospital staff around South Wales.

NPT staff with their bags.

Originally a volunteer group, Friends of Margam Park launched in 2006 and became a registered charity in 2018.

FoMP board member, Beverley Carver explained that due to the closure of the park and not being able to continue with their usual activities, the members have been busy making bags for staff to take their contaminated scrubs home, and put directly into the washing machine.

Finished bags.

“Unable to attend the park and inspired by the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, the FoMP activities section wanted to do something to help. Nurses and other hospital staff are putting their lives at risk to look after people, and we wanted to do something to make their lives a little easier. A number of NHS staff had mentioned they were desperate for bags for their contaminated scrubs, so that’s what the Friends decided to make. There has been tremendous demand for the bags, and in the last week, hundreds have been made and distributed to NHS staff,” said Beverley.

Volunteers busy at their sewing machines.

A number of volunteers have been making the drawstring bags; Joyce Hunt, Doreen Nash, Caroline Williams, Ann Chant, Lynne Walsh, Jen Hamilton Jones, Alex Harman, Rosie Carruthers, Janet Evans, Jackie Morcom, Marian Goulding, Sharon Freeguard and Jean Monrow.

“Joyce and another member Linda Short, have also been making knitted headbands for staff. Secretary Suzanne Barrett and I have been dealing with enquiries, requests and orders and Chairperson, Andrea Kennedy has been delivering the bags to hospitals and individual healthcare workers,” explained Beverley.

Swansea Bay Maternity Services staff.

So far the bags have been delivered to a number of departments in Neath Port Talbot Hospital (including the antenatal clinic, birth centre and Ward   D), as well as Ward 20 in the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend. A number of individual healthcare workers and staff at Swansea Bay Maternity services have also received bags.

Swansea Bay Maternity Services said, “We are feeling so lucky, thank you to the Friends of Margam Park for our beautiful uniform bags.”

Bags made by volunteers.

Local residents have also been a great help during this time, donating materials and fabric to ensure the FoMP have enough to keep making the bags.

“The Friends asked if members of the public had spare pillowcases or other fabric that they could donate, and the response has been incredible. A number of individuals have donated. We were given over 60 cotton tablecloths by one member, and the residents of Connaught Street were also very generous.”

“A 5-year-old boy called Theo donated his pillowcases for bags for the antenatal ward. We are very grateful to the staff at Spar in Dalton Road in Sandfields for allowing us to use the shop as a collection centre for material and bags,” said Beverley.

Material donated by the public.

Over the last few days Friends members, Linda Short, Joyce Hunt and Caroline Williams have been making knitted mask bands in addition to drawstring bags. These bands help keep surgical masks in place and alleviate discomfort for the wearer.

Knitted mask bands.

Under more normal circumstances, the FoMP can be found organising and participating in a number of events and activities, such as archaeological digs at Capel Mair, historical tours of Margam Castle, guided health walks around the park, and providing children’s activities. To find out more about the work they do, you can find them on Facebook or check out their website.