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Telling a Story Through Tailoring

18th May 2020

by National Lottery Good Causes

How a former celebrity designer is creating protective garments for key health workers through a National Lottery funded project.

Colourful PPE Masks

Like many people around the UK, Ruthin-based artist, Patrick Joseph's career and livelihood has been impacted by the Coronavirus crisis. “At the beginning of this pandemic I became suddenly redundant as a bespoke shirt maker,” says Patrick. “I looked into designing a mask pattern, which is now meeting a need as well as giving me and the team a sense of purpose. The mask has the potential to be a canvas, a canvas for makers to express and share personal experience of their life through Covid-19.”

Thanks to a small National Lottery grant from the Arts Council of Wales, Patrick - whose previous work in London includes designing for the stylists of Cheryl Cole, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams- has adapted his ‘Telling a Story Through Tailoring project’ in order to create PPE face masks dedicated to nurses, doctors and those working in support of the front-line health response to Covid-19.

Each mask holds its own hidden story. “Secret messages or words, hidden narratives within my products has always been a fascination for me and it is only the wearer that is aware of this,” explains Patrick.

“The uplifting words are the last thing the wearer sees and reads as they put on the mask on. The patient sees a friendly fabric print and not just a sometimes-scary surgical mask. These masks are intended to have a positive impact on the makers, the wearer and the patient being cared for. Our masks also being used at small care homes and by special needs teachers - basically the carers who sometimes get forgotten.”

Monochrome Mask

Those benefiting from the handmade PPE include staff at the Clatterbridge Cancer Care Centre on The Wirral, with 50 being delivered by the centre’s Governor, who is a Patrick Joseph client and is also part of the production line.

Patrick is being supported by a team of dedicated volunteers, which he has had no trouble in recruiting. From a vintage clothing retailer to a freelance chauffeur and painter/decorator turned designer; the mask-making project is cross-generational and inclusive, with disabled, vulnerable and socially isolated members making masks at home.

One volunteer is a specific needs teacher who is involving both her daughters in the educational craft, with the eldest checking quality control of production and the youngest keeping everyone in line while modelling the masks ‘fit’ for 7-10-year-olds. She also loves writing bilingual message of thanks, encouragement and hope on the lining of the masks, which all include a personalised, hand-written message.

Patrick’s volunteers all have different reasons for becoming involved, but they all have one thing in common – wanting to thank NHS staff for the sacrifices they are making throughout this pandemic.

Volunteer modelling mask

Last month, it was announced that charities and organisations affected by the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. ‘Telling a Story Through Tailoring’ is just one in thousands of National Lottery funded projects that are helping to make a difference in the community during coronavirus.

To find out more about the range of funding support announced by the National Lottery distributors across the UK to date, click here.