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CommunityMasks4NHS donates face masks to Illuminate Charity to highlight the benefits of sewing and creativity to mental health.



Over the past couple of months I have been working with clients adapting their websites to cope with changes to their services due to Covid-19. 


Many of my clients are charities and not for profit organisations so it's been satisfying to be able to help them by donating some of the face masks I have been making through my new project #CommunityMasks4NHS.


Below is a press release about the contribution I and my 'Mask Partner' Melissa Santiago-Val have made.




Melissa Santiago-Val and Jane Horwood and their team of volunteers at CommunityMasks4NHS  have not only been making 5,000 community-use face masks raising over £26,000 for NHS Charities Together, but with the aid of corporate sponsorship from The Grand Arcade and other local businesses, have begun providing masks to voluntary groups and local charities for free.


One of those to benefit is Illuminate Charity. a professional, not-for-profit organisation that specialises in mental health coaching and training to help people make positive changes.



Illuminate Charity



Sam Greenley, Founding Manager at Illuminate said ‘We are supporting people who are experiencing a variety of mental ill health, and this crisis is an even more difficult time for them. Giving masks to the staff team that are vibrant and engaging, not threatening or medical, has been a lovely gesture from the team of volunteers at CommunityMasks4NHS. We fully support the work CommunityMasks4NHS and their utilising of volunteers to make these masks. There is plenty of evidence that doing creative things is beneficial for mental wellbeing. It allows the person to get absorbed in the activity, become focused which is calming and unconsciously processes feelings. All great things for managing mental wellbeing’


Jane said ‘Being able to give masks to groups supporting vulnerable clients is key right now, especially as more people are advised to wear face-coverings. The Third Sector is really struggling with funding and staff working remotely or furloughed. We hope this small gesture will help people to see how important mental health support is, and that Illuminate Charity can help at this time’.


Jane and Melissa already had links with Illuminate. Jane designed their website and Melissa took part in their Confidence for Change course which helped her find the skills and confidence to work on this initiative.


CommunityMasks4NHS has donated over 500 face masks to local charities and groups. These include Community Transport Teams (taking isolated people to hospital appointments), Coram’s Field children’s charity in Camden and the local Homestart scheme who Melissa also volunteers for, supporting families with young children in crisis. The team even provided a set of daffodil themed masks to the Committee of the Thriplow Daffodil Weekend and Country Fair, whose event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis earlier this year.


Jane is delighted to have been able to support some of her clients with the provision of face masks including Cambridge Women’s Aid and Carers Count in Kirklees.


Melissa said ‘Our volunteers have told us that they have found so many positive mental health benefits of sewing. Having a sense of purpose and community has been a surprising positive of lockdown. Now so many people have got their sewing machines out again to sew masks and scrubs, we hope to find a way of taking this initiative forward to unleash the mental health benefits of sewing and creativity beyond this crisis”.


If you are experiencing mental health issues as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, please call 111 or your GP, and take a look at some of the resources on Illuminate Charity’s website, including a Community weekly Zoom group, which is operating among a number of their services during the crisis.


Illuminate Charity are the winners of the 2019 Cambridge Community and Education Community Awards.


You can purchase your face masks at