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Insights Supporting the local community with my time off work

​We know that taking time away from work is essential for our health and wellbeing as well as the health of our business. But as we continue to live with restrictions on our everyday lives that will most certainly affect our usual summer holidays both at home and abroad, it might be easy to feel uninspired with what you can do with your time off.

Claire Ede, Team Leader in our Finance Shared Services function, has been using her annual leave to make a difference in her local community. “During lockdown I began making masks for my family and friends. I reconnected with my daughter’s twenty-year-old sewing machine and found it a creative way to keep busy and sane. I was keen to expand my skills and designs so whilst researching for new patterns, I stumbled across a Facebook page about The Community Mask Tree initiative and from here an idea was born,” says Claire.
lady wearing a mask and hanging bunting around a bush
Claire discovered The Community Mask Tree initiative which began in Wiltshire. It started with a group of volunteer sewers that had mobilised to make scrubs and scrub bags for local key workers. Soon, they discovered that this effort could be put to action in helping ensure that everyone in the local area could access a face covering in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over some days of annual leave last month, Claire created her very own community mask tree outside her house. “Community mask trees are essentially what it says on the tin – they are trees usually hosted outside the host’s home or sometimes in community spaces with masks available for the community to take in exchange for a charitable donation,” explains Claire. Claire’s tree has a range of masks available in different shapes and sizes, and of course with an array of patterns and fabrics. See below for a sneak peak of Claire’s creations.
image of Claire putting up bunting
Claire’s proud that she’s been not only able to use her annual leave to support her local community but also learn a new skill and produce masks that are efficient, environmentally friendly and reusable.  “There’s a real sense of community both online and offline with the mask trees,” says Claire. “I’ve been able to discover tips and tricks for producing the masks through other hosts and the sense of collaboration with the community has been inspiring.”

The Community Mask Tree initiative is growing at pace, over the UK there’s currently more than 250 trees with more than 270 volunteer mask makers supporting over 100 different charities. Claire asks those taking a mask to contribute to the Bookham Community Fridge - local charity set up to support those facing financial difficulty or self-isolating due to Covid-19.  Rather than give a payment, the local community are invited to leave a food donation on Claire’s doorstep which goes directly to local families in need.