• SPAR NI has opened up 18 locations where its SPAR and EUROSPAR post offices will become pick up and drop off points
  • Following the highly successful scrubs campaign, where 26,000 scrubs were made by local sewers, this new campaign sees a move to meet current needs
  • This project is supported by Patrick Grant of the Great British Sewing Bee
  • Business in the Community, through its Business Response Network connected the two organisations and is supporting in the logistics for distribution into the community

SPAR and EUROSPAR NI, NI Scrubs and Business in the Community are delighted to announce a collaborative partnership through the Business Response Network to make and distribute 20,000 face covering for local communities.

Angeline Murphy from the NI Big Community Sew explains:

“The stitching mission all started with NI Scrubs, where over 26,000 scrubs were produced for frontline NHS and care staff. Individually, I fundraised over £32,000 for the group to help purchase fabric for the stitchers. The volunteer army of stitchers met the demand for scrubs and filled the stop gap that existed at the time.

“With some money remaining we are looking towards the vulnerable in the community and we want to get face coverings to those in most need. I am a great believer in sewing and the benefits of working with your hands for improving your mental health. I truly believe that using our hands may actually be key to maintaining a healthy mind.

“Though a cloth face covering is not PPE, Public Health England has stated they are sufficient in preventing the spread of COVID-19 person-person and will be key to reducing the R-number within our communities.’’

Bronagh Luke, head of corporate marketing, Henderson Group which owns the SPAR and EUROSPAR brands in Northern Ireland explains why they got on board, saying:

“Our SPAR/EUROSPAR stores are in the heart of every community in Northern Ireland, with each one a hub for their local area. We support our neighbours throughout the year, however in the past few months we have developed new initiatives which have helped local charities and organisations adjust through this challenging time with our Community Cashback Grant, which saw 16 organisations receive a share of £20,000.

“Utilising some of our Post Offices as pick up and drop off points makes this collaboration even easier to navigate for everyone involved. It’s an honour to help and be part of this very important initiative for our local communities.”

Lisa McIlvenna, deputy managing director, Business in the Community adds:

“We’re all fighting to get through this crisis, and in nearly every instance we’ve seen the best way to achieve this is for local groups, charities and businesses to come together. As lockdown is beginning to ease, it is important that we all do our very best to protect ourselves and each other. This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when business and communities come together and we are delighted to be part of it.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Response Network in Northern Ireland has connected more than 90 requests for support from local community groups, schools and charities with business support to meet their urgent needs during the crisis.

The project has also received some famous support from Patrick Grant, fashion designer and judge of the Great British Sewing Bee, who has launched the Big Community Sew campaign UK-wide. He said:

“In these unprecedented times sewing has gone from being a hobby to an essential service. I was amazed at the number of scrubs and items the stitchers of Northern Ireland have produced in such a short space of time.

It’s heartening to see everyone working so hard to serve and support some of the most vulnerable members of our community and encouraging that businesses like Spar/Eurospar are stepping up to the mark to support their local communities. I am proud to be supporting Angeline and the NI Big Community Sew.’’

Packs for stitchers will be available at Post Offices in the following SPAR/EUROSPAR stores from Wednesday 1 July 2020: Banbridge – Dromore Road; Bangor – Abbeyhill; Clough; Coleraine – Millburn; Craigavon – Loughview; Cullybackey; Derry – Dhu Varren; Derry – Rossdowney; Dromara; Dunclug; Dungannon – Cohannon; Garvey – Longstone Street; Glengormley – Glenwell; Larne – Viking Lodge; Lisburn – Glenavy Road; Newtownards – Donaghadee Road; Portadown – Brownstown Road; Portrush – Hillcrest; Tandragee. For store locations and more information, please visit www.facebook.com/NIBigCommunitySew