The Covid-19 lockdown created many challenges for third sector organisations across Scotland and our members have responded strongly and admirably to the crisis.  Despite facing an almost overnight loss of trading income many community reuse and recycling organisations have been pivoting their efforts to support those in their communities who were isolated or were particularly vulnerable during the lockdown.

In this new series of Lockdown Conversations, our CEO, Michael Cook, speaks to some CRNS members about how they have been supporting their communities through this difficult time.

In this our fourth video, Michael talks to Pamela Candea from Transition Stirling and Anne Lange at Something Old Something New both organisations have been making face coverings for protection during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What was the impact of Covid-19 on your organisation?

Both organisations faced a significant impact when Covid-19 hit.  Transition Stirling had to close their main project which was a tool library as their premises were too small to support adequate social distancing.

Similarly at Something Old Something New (SOSN), they shut their shop during the lockdown which resulted in a significant drop in income as well as donations of furniture ceasing which impacted their stock-levels for when the shop was able to reopen.

How did you respond to the needs of your community?

One clear need which people in their communities had was for face coverings for Covid-19 protection.  As it became apparent that face coverings were recommended by public health experts and then mandated both organisations set out to support their communities by providing affordable and environmentally sustainable locally produced face coverings.

At SOSN, Anne was concerned that this might be quite a regulated area but the government were clear that there was a difference between medical grade face masks and cloth face coverings.  That said she was still determined to ensure they were made to a high standard and where possible used reuse material which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

At Transition Stirling, making face coverings also provided a way to engage the skills and time of eight volunteers who wanted to donate their time to support their communities.  To date Transition Stirling have made over 300 face coverings.  They have also been making plastic visors on their 3D printer using recycled PET (from plastic bottles).

Both organisations were mindful of the need to keep costs low or just accept donations.

By making these face coverings locally and where possible from reuse material there is a clear benefit to the environment.  There is also an important role in educating people going forward about how they shop to consider the impact on the environment.

Face coverings beyond Stirling

At CRNS we know of many of our members across Scotland who have been making PPE to support their communities.  For example Westhill Men’s Shed put their 3D printer to work to make over 3000 visors whilst Remake Scotland in Crieff vollunteers supported the For the Love of Scrubs campaign to make protective clothing for front line workers.

A key theme during the pandemic is how community resource organisations have pivoted to support their communities and making protective items such as face covering is just one example of that.