Gowns with a silver lining: Community students stitch reusable scrubs for NHS staff

Ruth Peterson | July 3, 2020

3 July 2020

A community sewing class has teamed up with Bradford businesses to create reusable theatre scrubs and gowns for the NHS.

A completed hospital gown
A finished gown


Bradford College Distance and Community Learning students have created around 100 gowns as well as scrubs, masks and bags. The College has donated them to healthcare staff at hospitals in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield as well as a dental practice and GP surgeries in West Yorkshire.

A pile of folded hospital gowns
A pile of gowns ready to deliver

“We’re now taking orders!”


Duncan Burnett, Curriculum Manager for Distance Learning, said: “They have been so popular that we’re now taking orders!”

Led by tutor Nabeela Khan, a group of students have been creating the gowns during online sewing and costume making classes. She teaches them to members of the community while Bradford College’s buildings remain closed.

The subject is among many offered as part of the distance learning curriculum. It enables members of the community to continue their learning and promote positive mental and physical wellbeing.

The students include harder to reach members of the community. Among them are refugees, workers who have been furloughed and people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Students’ skills grow under Nabeela’s guidance

Nabeela explained that she delivered the material to the students Under her guidance, they sewed the gowns, scrubs and masks at home before Nabeela delivered the finished materials to hospitals and clinics in the area.

They even created drawstring bags so once the gowns were used, they could be put into the bags and straight into the wash when the wearer arrived home from work.

She said: “We took videos and photos of every stage of the process. We even had a WhatsApp group for classes making the gowns.

“The gowns have to be made very well and the students have become better and better at stitching. They’ve given up lots of their time to do this and have done so well.”

Supporting healthcare staff and the environment

Bombay Stores and Dilshad Fabrics have donated fabric, elastic and interfacing. The gowns supported the efforts against Covid-19 and helped the environment by reducing the use of disposable gowns. Duncan added: “The gowns ensure sustainability so even in these times we’ve tried to prevent unnecessary waste.

Folded gowns and masks
Gowns and masks ready to deliver


“It’s just wonderful. I thank each and every student and staff member for supporting our NHS, sustainability and showcasing the skills of Bradfordians. It shows that in textile production, Bradford is still among the best in the world!”

Chief nurse: Their support has touched us all

Chief Nurse of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Karen Dawber said: “One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has done, is to bring communities together and encouraged people into looking out for one another. We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our community and with Bradford College and their support during this time has touched all of us at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

“So from everyone at the Trust, we send an enormous thank you to Nabeela Khan and her Distance and Community Learning sewing students, who have done a fantastic job in making the masks, bags and gowns. We are indebted to them. We are also very grateful to Dilshad Fabric and Bombay Stores for their kind donation of the material. Gestures like this really illustrate how we are all in this together.”

About our Community and Distance Learning Opportunities

Bradford College is also offering online courses in cooking, British Sign Language, accountancy, keep fit, active in the community, textiles, digital employability and preparation for work clubs.

The College’s Distance Learning Curriculum covers learning opportunities to positively embed employability. It also offers personal and social development to enhance career opportunities and the mental health and well-being of the students. At the same time it promotes social togetherness and positive community role models.

You can find out more about Bradford College’s part-time courses for adults on the website. Whether you want to take up a new hobby, study for your own personal development, or improve your skills for a career change or job promotion, we have something for you. You can also find information on our learning for leisure, accredited courses in the community and distance learning.

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