The face mask.... debated around the world for months.... and that to me is precisely the problem, it was only debated, for too long!
On day 1 of lockdown in Scotland, I got to work on contacting everyone I knew in the textiles industry, celebrities, and all of the Ministers for Scotland who were in a position to influence the immediate action of ensuring every single person in Scotland could have a mask.
WHEN PEOPLE IGNORE YOU, IT CAN BREAK YOU, OR MAKE YOU FIGHT HARDER
They were all literally silent..... or said a mask would make the situation worse! Nobody was prepared to step up at that time, they all hid behind 'science' and did not use their common sense sadly. After all, this virus comes from your nose and mouth.... not difficult to work it out.
I reached out to say there is an industry that can serve the community also, the community is as important as the frontline carers, after all this is where the virus was spreading. But for the community this had to be a mask that carried a quality mark, after all this is a health crisis and not a fashion show.... This virus should not be giving birth to a new trend! But politically the panic had set in, we simply were not prepared even for our frontline carers, there was no masks and by asking the public to wear one when they had no solution, it was covered up as not proven beneficial.... But we delivered a solution, it even was hand delivered to the door of the Minister of Health for Westminster, with no response whatsoever.
THREE MONTHS later and finally a positive response to not just my opinion but the solution I provided them with, it was a framework to share with every maker across the country. It was a sustainable solution, natural fibre materials that could be recovered and repurposed. We asked for the Government to consider subsidising this to ensure every single person received one, and not merely revert to a situation of where the wealthy stay healthy. It would be a mask that gave a guaranteed particle filtration efficiency, it had passed face fit tests, it gave guidance to the users. Therefore protected people and the planet at the same time.
Alas, during these three months the only support our Government extended was for single use plastic masks and meanwhile the unregulated market was a free for all who wanted to created branded fashion products with no accountability whatsoever as long as they said 'this is not a medical device'
The time wasted is unforgivable, as this has no doubt cost lives.
ETHICS AND MORALS
So for three months I have lobbied, and during that time I was not prepared to 'sell' a single mask when I could not provide any health information, because it is a health product. I did make over 1,000 masks during that time for free, using kilt lining cotton cloth, with nose pinch wires, an added filter insert pocket and adjustable straps. These were sent to the far north of Scotland, a little island off Orkney to NHS staff commuting in London, all via UK Free Masks which I created in March.
We were contacted numerous times to sell masks, and I could not morally do this, but did give away as many free as I could. It angered me that in this day and age a health product could be sold in such an unregulated manner.
So we do not do nothing, we volunteered, we lobbied and now we will show to all the integrity we never compromise on.
We will be testing our fabrics immediately with the help and support from science professionals in a Scottish laboratory. We will refine the product design to give maximum protection, and we will announce our masks for all subscription service. Where we will guarantee you a mask for life with a cradle to cradle promise.
It is now we go public on this, for too long we have been silent.
It has awakened and strengthened our material rebellion commitment and now given us the courage to challenge, to stand up and should we need to name names we will.
Why? Because being silent is saying you agree.... please do not be silent on those things that pain you and keep you awake at night. Because when you speak up you realise you are not alone. Many voices can make change happen.
To pre-order our Mask of Integrity, click here.
For businesses and organisations interested in joining the supply chain for the mask of integrity, we are looking to build our network of yarn producers, weavers, finishers and seamstresses, click here.