Hopefully, we are looking at the loosening of the lockdown over the coming weeks. Some outdoor activities have been allowed and we’re able to meet our friends or families in gardens and parks. It looks like shops will be next on the list but how does this impact the workshops where we learn new skills, develop our techniques and generally get together for a nice days sewing? Well, I’m lucky enough to be married to a heath and safety expert who is leading his company’s reaction to Covid-19 so I’ve been discussing with him the safety procedures we need to take on board to be able to operate fully in a workshop situation. (Of course, I’ve also bribed him to write my risk assessments.) For this blog I thought I’d cover the health and safety aspects that I’m putting in place to reassure you that my workshops will be safe to attend in these difficult times.
I run workshops at The Cotton Angel, a small shop with a workshop area, and at The Rolls of Monmouth, which is a late Victorian Gothic mansion situated in a stunning golf course. The difficulties in both these venues are slightly different but the main idea the same. Social distancing has become the by-word of the present day and 2 meters the defined distance for the UK, at present in June. Direct face to face contact is the enemy as this is how Covid-19 spreads quickly so this is what we try and avoid.
You will, I’m sure, have seen physical barriers, such as at the clear plastic screens at checkouts of supermarkets, but these aren’t exactly practical or workshop friendly. A clever option is to site your workstations back to back or facing the wall, significantly reducing the chance of virus spread. So, with this in mind, in the shop we will be siting the workstations around the edge of the room, facing the walls. You will still be able to talk across the room to everyone but will be sited at a safe distance. At the Rolls we have the benefit of larger conference rooms which we can spread out at a much larger distance. I will be applying the same ideas, back to back or staggered work areas.
It has been proven that being outside lessens the chance of picking up the virus and, if indoors, having good ventilation is ideal. For the shop we have the capacity to open windows, which will happen for the workshops so you may need to think about bringing an extra layer. It is horrible to be cold and certainly reduces your enjoyment of workshops so stick in an extra top or two if it’s a bit chilly. The Rolls, being a huge historic building, has plenty of opportunities for good ventilation. We may be sited in the Orangery, where we can open French doors onto the patio, beyond which the deer of the park regularly gather, or perhaps the ‘new’ dining room where a large bay window gazes majestically over the 18thhole. The building is heated but the rooms are large so again it might be a good idea to add a jumper to your workshop equipment.
Talking of equipment – stick to using your own, not borrowing items as we used to. I will have items to lend along with plenty of hand sanitiser and wipes but if you can bring everything with you it reduces the risk of cross contamination. Hand washing is still the best way to kill the virus so wash on arrival and prior to departure as a minimum. Both locations have toilets and washing facilities so this won’t be a problem.
We do sometimes use the shop’s sewing machines, if you can bring your own I would suggest that it would be a better option. All workstations and machines will be wiped both before and after the sessions. As we normally stick to our own it’s unlikely that there would be a problem but better safe than sorry. Following on from this, if you would like to wear a mask, I leave that decision up to you. I have a clear plastic face shield for when I need to come close to individuals. This will significantly reduce any risk as I should be the only person that may need to approach within the 2 meter distance.
We would normally have stopped for a refreshment break mid-afternoon, an excuse for cake, but this won’t be provided for the foreseeable future. You are welcome to bring your own drinks, perhaps in a keep it warm mug, but they will not be provided at The Cotton Angel. At The Rolls we may, as soon as they are allowed, have the option of a take-a-way service. Ask at time of booking as government advice is constantly being updated.
If you are feeling poorly in the 24 hours prior to the event, please let us know. We can simply move you to another date so don’t be worried that you will loose out. At the moment we all have to make allowances and if you happen to be worried you might be starting to suffer or have been asked to self-isolate – let us know. It will not be a problem to rebook you on a different date when you are feeling better or can return to society.
After all, this period of lockdown has been socially hard for all of us – although I have been working hard on new projects – but I for one can’t wait to see you all again. Take care and stay safe!