They come in all colours and patterns in a simple A5 shape. But Julie Taylor’s fabric shoulder bags are making life easier for thousands of cancer patients throughout the country who are receiving round the clock pain management medication via a syringe pump called a driver.
The drivers are heavy, about the size of a pencil case and awkward for patients to carry around, especially when they are not feeling well. Some carried them in carrier bags and they were often dropped and damaged, causing distress and making patients feel clumsy, affecting their self-esteem and wish to be independent.
Liverpool Women's Macmillan Team placed a small advert in a local shop asking for volunteers who liked sewing to bring some comfort to patients by making make washable shoulder bags for single patient use for carrying their drivers. Julie Taylor saw the ad in a Crosby shop.
Within a year she had made 100 bags using fabric donated by individuals and local fabric shops. She worked with children at a local primary school to make the bags. Once completed, a handmade label was attached with the child’s first name and the bags were distributed to Liverpool Women’s patients who were touched by the labels, showing children were thinking of them.
The idea snowballed and other schools and adult sewing groups joined the project and soon Julie and her volunteers were providing bags for cancer patients at other Merseyside Hospitals. Word spread further afield. In 2012, Julie’s project went national after she created a website http://www.makingforcharity.co.uk/, providing instructions for making the bags and personally made up starter packs so volunteers would have an actual bag and instructions to copy. She sent these all over the country, paying the postage herself. She set up a Facebook page - facebook.com/makingforcharity - which has led to a new national community of volunteers with likes from people donating fabric, volunteers making bags and health care professionals, all sharing stories and feedback. Julie herself has helped volunteers all over the country to set up schemes with their local hospices and hospitals.
Said one patient who wrote to Julie: "You have brought so much warmth to people who are in a very cold place. Not only that but you’ve also given people a sense of empowerment because the people who make the bags feel they are doing something proactive to help patients. It is a huge thing that you have done in so many ways."
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