A cut above the rest - Cocobolo Furnishings volunteers are making scrubs happen at The Factory

The response from residential and business communities across Dorset to the Covid-19 crisis has been nothing short of amazing with some incredible examples of positive and game changing support being provided.

This week, BCHA is proud to showcase the work being carried out by Cocobolo, a small soft furnishings business based at our social enterprise office rental premises The Factory in Poole. 

After Cocobolo’s tiny workforce was furloughed due to Covid, husband and wife business partners Mike and Sarah Hicks asked their staff if they wanted to get involved in volunteering to help make scrubs for East Dorset charity ‘For the love of Scrubs’.

So six weeks ago Mike, Sarah, Chelda and Danielle began producing scrubs kits and accessories using cutting/hand-sewing skills previously employed to make beautiful curtains and cushions.

The Cocobolo team cuts out the scrubs kits and puts them into laundry bags, which are then collected and distributed to the sewing hubs. The finished garments are then returned and sorted, before being distributed to local hospitals, GP surgeries, community volunteers and schools.

Mike Hicks explained:

“Usually we are hand-sewing curtains and soft furnishings, but due to the Covid-19 situation our curtain business effectively stopped and we are all furloughed.

“We felt that although we’re only a small business, we have the necessary skills and expertise to help. So I asked the girls if they wanted to get involved and they were excited to help. We’ve volunteered our workroom, staff and more importantly space. 

“We’ve been working with ‘For the love of scrubs’ for about six weeks now and in that time Cocobolo has evolved into a distribution centre. Using our business accounts and contacts we have sourced fabrics, threads, tapes to help the effort. Our workroom is large enough for social distancing so we have been cutting scrub sets and then sending them out as kits, which are then stitched together by volunteers sewers. 

“As the volume of work has grown, we have needed more space and this has been kindly provided by BCHA, our landlords, who are letting us use their conference room as a sorting space for all the donated fabric. It’s a large, well set up room, which is proving is ideal for ensuring we can all remain safe and well while working.”

Sarah Hicks, who has over 26 years of experience in soft furnishings and who runs the workroom, added:

“It's a marathon job organising, sourcing and keeping on top of everything, so huge thanks to every single person who has got involved. Great Britain is GREAT at manufacturing and we are so proud to be playing our part in this crisis and making a difference, quite literally, by making protective clothing for the people who need them most. We’re all passionate about sewing and fabric, so it’s great to be able to channel this dedication into helping support the amazing work that is being carried out.”

Over the past six weeks Cocobolo has donated nearly 600 volunteer hours, during which time they have ordered, processed and produced:

  • 2.8 million metres of thread
  • 2000 metres of tape for waistbands
  • 6500 metres of fabric
  • Cut and sent out:
    • 435 scrubs kits (plus 151 kits have already been requested this week)
    • 1290 masks and hats
    • 880 headbands and mask bands
    • 2150 laundry bags

Special mention and thanks must be given to:

  • Bournemouth and Poole Rotary club for their invaluable help in delivering the cut scrubs to the "Hub Coordinators"
  • DJ Define, who did a DJ set to raise money through donations and sponsorship from local businesses
  • The Noah Evans charity - Scrubs glorious Scrubs- who made a large donation of fabric.

For further information about The Factory, please contact BCHA’s customer services on: 01202 410 500 

For further information about Cocobolo Furnishings, visit: www.cocobolofurnishings.co.uk

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