Face masks don’t need to be a communication barrier

Gregor Craig, right, with his brother Robbie and sister Jemma, sporting their transparent face coverings courtesy of Kintyre Scrubs.
Gregor Craig, right, with his brother Robbie and sister Jemma, sporting their transparent face coverings courtesy of Kintyre Scrubs.

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When it is became mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport in Scotland – unless exempt – one Campbeltown boy, who was born with a severe to profound hearing impairment, worried about how he would communicate effectively without the ability to lip read.

Gregor Craig, aged 12, did not have to worry for long, thanks to the volunteers at Kintyre Scrubs, who are now manufacturing face coverings with a transparent section over the mouth area.

Kintyre Scrubs was set up by Kintyre Community Resilience Group (KCRG) in response to local needs identified during lockdown. Initially, the group sought to assist NHS staff, carers and support workers by producing washable, protective garments known as scrubs. Taking inspiration from a Mid Argyll-based group, KCRG issued a plea for sewing volunteers and donations of materials.

Elise Glendinning stepped forward offering to help identify appropriate volunteers and coordinate these activities. The group now has between 10 and 15 volunteers who have made 75 sets of scrubs which have been distributed to locations including Shopper-Aide and Greenwood Residential Home. The group is currently in the process of completing another bulk order from Campbeltown Grammar School. The volunteers have also made a total of 75 laundry bags.

When the Scottish Government made it compulsory to wear face coverings in some indoor spaces, Kintyre Scrubs sought to meet local demand and has so far made 583 cloth face masks which are being distributed freely to the local community via Keeping it Local, Campbeltown Town Hall and Shopper-Aide.

That was when Gregor’s mum, Martine, asked if the group would consider making transparent face coverings to assist people who rely on lip reading to communicate.

So far Kintyre Scrubs has made more than 40 transparent face coverings, which have been hailed as a huge success and are now being distributed to people with hearing impairments and their families and key workers.

Martine told the Courier: ‘The Kintyre Scrubs team took this challenge on board and after a few wee trials and adjustments we have these fully functional masks. It is just amazing!

‘I have a young man at home who was very concerned about how he’d be able to communicate with ‘normal’ masks and he is delighted with these. I also know from feedback from the Kintyre Scrubs tam that he’s not the only one – I couldn’t be more thankful to them.’

Elise said: ‘Our thanks must go to the sewing volunteers, who have worked relentlessly since the start – they are a great team. Also Jason McCallum of Keeping it Local for storage of fabrics, deliveries, distribution of essential bags and accessing sanitiser; Emma Woods of Davaar Launderette for cleaning our donated fabric; Terry Smith, sewing machine engineer, for keeping our machines tip top; John Armour of Argyll FM, for keeping everyone informed; KCRG for help with funding the accessories required, deliveries and posts on its Facebook page; and the good people of Kintyre for fabric donations.’