Coronavirus Northern Ireland: SPAR stitches up a plan for the Big Community Sew

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

SPAR and EUROSPAR NI, NI Scrubs and Business in the Community have announced a collaborative partnership through the Business Response Network to make and distribute 20,000 face covering for local communities.

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Speaking to Newry Times, Angeline Murphy from the NI Big Community Sew explained, “The stitching mission all started with NI Scrubs, where over 26,000 scrubs were produced for frontline NHS and care staff.



“Individually, I fundraised over £32,000 for the group to help purchase fabric for the stitchers.

“The volunteer army of stitchers met the demand for scrubs and filled the stopgap that existed at the time.

“With some money remaining, we are looking towards the vulnerable in the community, and we want to get face coverings to those in most need.

“I am a great believer in sewing and the benefits of working with your hands for improving your mental health.

“I truly believe that using our hands may actually be key to maintaining a healthy mind.

“Though a cloth face covering is not PPE, Public Health England has stated they are sufficient in preventing the spread of COVID-19 person-person and will be key to reducing the R-number within our communities,” she added.

Bronagh Luke, head of corporate marketing, Henderson Group which owns the SPAR and EUROSPAR brands in Northern Ireland, explains why they got on board.



“Our SPAR/EUROSPAR stores are in the heart of every community in Northern Ireland, with each one a hub for their local area,” she explained.

“We support our neighbours throughout the year; however in the past few months, we have developed new initiatives which have helped local charities and organisations adjust through this challenging time with our Community Cashback Grant, which saw 16 organisations receive a share of £20,000.

“Utilising some of our Post Offices as pick up and drop off points makes this collaboration even easier to navigate for everyone involved.

Bronagh added, “It’s an honour to help and be part of this very important initiative for our local communities.”

Lisa McIlvenna, deputy managing director, Business in the Community said, “We’re all fighting to get through this crisis, and in nearly every instance we’ve seen the best way to achieve this is for local groups, charities and businesses to come together.



“As lockdown is beginning to ease, it is important that we all do our very best to protect ourselves and each other.

Lisa added, “This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when business and communities come together, and we are delighted to be part of it.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Response Network in Northern Ireland has connected more than 90 requests for support from local community groups, schools and charities with business support to meet their urgent needs during the crisis.

The project has also received some famous support from Patrick Grant, fashion designer and judge of the Great British Sewing Bee, who has launched the Big Community Sew campaign UK-wide.

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He said, “In these unprecedented times sewing has gone from being a hobby to an essential service.

“I was amazed at the number of scrubs and items the stitchers of Northern Ireland have produced in such a short space of time.

“It’s heartening to see everyone working so hard to serve and support some of the most vulnerable members of our community and encouraging that businesses like SPAR/EUROSPAR are stepping up to the mark to support their local communities.

Patrick adds, “I am proud to be supporting Angeline and the NI Big Community Sew.’’



For store locations and more information, please visit

Could your business do more to help?

Community organisations in need of help and businesses wanting to offer their support can visit the Business Response Network online and see the current needs and offers:


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